States Consider 51 Bills to Restrict Chemicals in 2017

So far in the 2017 legislative cycle, 16 state legislatures are considering 51 bills seeking to restrict or otherwise regulate chemicals, just 8 months after sweeping changes to the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) were signed into law on June 22, 2016. Many of these new state bills follow recurring themes from 2016, while others signal new trends. The attached chart provides details regarding active state bills in the 2017 legislative cycle. 

Restricting or prohibiting the use of certain flame retardants is still a hot topic; 11 states are thus far considering or have considered flame retardant bills. Like similar bills proposed in 2016, many of these proposals target upholstered furniture and children’s products. 

In Mississippi, New York, and New Jersey, legislators have proposed a range of bills that would prohibit certain uses of bisphenol A, phthalates, and mercury and other heavy metals in children’s items, demonstrating continued interest in restricting chemicals of concern in children’s products. In all, 13 states are considering or have considered bills that target children’s products in some form. Among other trends, bills in 6 states are targeting personal care and consumer products, and bills in 4 states focus on mercury and other heavy metals. 

States continue to consider a wide range of approaches and tools to address chemicals at the state level, from outright prohibitions and phase-outs to mandatory disclosure, labeling, reporting, and recordkeeping requirements, and compulsory product stewardship take-back programs. A few states are even considering more comprehensive chemicals management programs that mirror certain aspects of the amended TSCA. For example, a bill in Massachusetts would require state authorities to publish a list of commonly used chemical substances, designate certain chemicals from the list as priority substances every year, prepare assessment reports for these substances, and promulgate action plans to manage such chemicals and identify safer alternatives. This process resembles the new section 6 prioritization, risk evaluation, and risk management process under TSCA. 

As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency implements TSCA reform, state legislatures continue to consider state-level actions to regulate chemicals. Therefore, the industry should continue to monitor the latest development of state chemical regulation proposals.