An environmental health coalition expects a majority of U.S. states to consider legislation to alter their chemical regulations this year.
A recent analysis by Safer States said lawmakers in 28 states will propose such changes, headlined by efforts to identify, disclose or — in some cases — phase out chemicals identified as posing a concern to the public.
The group expects 12 states to consider such legislation: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
Eleven states are also expected to consider disclosure requirements or restrictions on flame retardant materials in consumer products that are considered toxic. California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Washington are expected to take up those changes as well, along with Alaska, Idaho, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Mississippi, New Jersey and New York are also expected to consider limits on phthalates — largely used in plastics and personal care products — and to address lead content in consumer products. In addition, Maine and Michigan will consider phthalates restrictions, while measures to counter lead are expected in Illinois and Indiana.
Six states are considering phasing out bisphenol A, or BPA, from consumer products, while four states are set to take up restrictions on cadmium. Other potential measures include restrictions on formaldehyde, triclosan and microbeads.
Although Republicans made considerable gains in statehouses during last fall's elections — and despite the party's traditional skepticism toward business regulations — Safer States said efforts to alter chemical regulations have largely been bipartisan, and that Republicans have taken the lead on some issues.
"You are getting bipartisan introduction and Republican ownership in [states like] Washington and Oregon," said Sarah Doll, the group's director.
Doll also downplayed the potential impact of chemical legislation at the federal level, saying states can still respond to those issues more quickly than Washington.
The federal government regulates chemicals through the Toxic Substances Control Act, and members of Congress on both sides say an update to the 1976 law — the only major environmental law that hasn't seen an overhaul since its adoption — is urgently needed.
Rep. John Shimkus, R-Illinois and the chairman of the House's environment subcommittee, said last month a "more limited" reform measure could be forthcoming in the current session of Congress after a proposal last year failed to generate agreement between Republicans, Democrats and industry representatives.