Good news from the Department Of Ecology: Lab results revealing levels of toxic chemicals in consumer products sold in Washington are now available through an online database. The database includes test results for products such as children’s and baby’s items, clothing, personal care items, toys, children’s upholstered furniture, and electrical and electronic items. Information on more product types, such as office and art supplies, will be added in the future.
Tests show most manufacturers are following laws regulating the use of toxic chemicals.
The Department of Ecology tests products to understand where and why toxic chemicals are used, with the goal of working with businesses and green chemists to find safer alternatives. Ecology also tests products to verify manufacturers are following state laws:
Children’s Safe Product Act (As part of this law, Ecology hosts a separate database with information manufacturers report about their use of toxic chemicals. Ecology compares what manufacturers report with their product testing results.)
Bans on polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants in a wide array of uses, bisphenol A (BPA) in sports and children’s bottles, and copper in antifouling paints for recreational boats.
The presence of a chemical in a product does not necessarily mean it’s unsafe. However, when the widespread use of chemicals in everyday products combines with other sources, it all adds up to a significant problem. Toxic chemicals, especially long-lasting ones that build up over time, are found everywhere – in our air, land, water and bodies.
Testing products is just one piece of a much larger toxics puzzle. This work will help achieve Gov. Inslee’s Clean Water Initiative to update water quality standards and reduce the use of toxic chemicals. Ecology published Focus on Chemicals in Consumer Products to help database users understand the information available. Josh Grice, research analyst on the project, can also be contacted at 360-407-6786 to answer questions.
People interested in Ecology’s work on toxics are encouraged to follow the ECOconnect blog series Tackling Toxics. The series provides in-depth coverage of product testing and other actions the agency is taking to reduce toxic threats in Washington.