Without TFKA expansions, OHA forced to choose 5 chemicals to regulate
There’s thousands of potentially harmful chemicals in products that are marketed to kids. As of now, OHA can regulate just a few of them. We need to change that.
In 2015, OEC’s advocacy lead to the passage of a groundbreaking law, the Toxics Free Kids Act (TFKA), which required manufacturers of children’s products sold in Oregon to report certain products containing High Priority Chemicals of Concern for Children’s Health (HPCCCH) (“high priority chemical list”), and ultimately phase them out. However, the chemical and toy industry successfully limited the law, so that the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) could not regulate more than five new chemicals every three years.
This means that OHA must choose which five chemicals to add to the list, when there may be hundreds or thousands of chemicals putting kids and families at risk. Right now, OEC is currently engaging in a rulemaking with OHA to do exactly that. So we have to choose between chemicals like Bisphenol F, which can disrupt the reproductive, developmental, and endocrine systems, Chlorinated Paraffins which have been linked to cancer, or Isopropylated Triphenyl Phosphate (IPTPP), a toxic flame retardant with negative adrenal and metabolic impacts. All these chemicals meet the criteria for toxicity, and all chemicals have been reported/found in kid’s products in Oregon, but OHA will have to leave some of these unregulated.
Adding just 5 new chemicals to the list every three years is not enough. Since the Toxic Free Kids Act Program was enacted 6 years ago, more than 4,000 reports have been filed, disclosing harmful substances like arsenic, lead, and formaldehyde in children’s products.
Earlier this year, during the Oregon legislative session, OEC worked to update the original TFKA law to allow OHA to regulate the full range of chemicals in kids’ products and to create a parallel regulatory system to Washington so that producers have similar standards to use. Oregon already shares a reporting system with Washington, but Washington’s version of the Toxic Free Kids Act contains NO limits on the number of chemicals their health agency can regulate. This created challenges for companies selling products, and for regulators. In 2017, Washington state was able to add over 20 chemicals to its regulation list, while Oregon’s health agency was forced to leave chemicals like chlorinated paraffins, a known carcinogen, to still be allowed in kids products.
Had it passed, HB 2495, the 2021 Toxic Free Kids Modernization Act would have, amongst other things, addressed these gaps in regulation while continuing to build on the success of the Toxic Free Kids program. Unfortunately, it was stalled out of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee last legislative session. This must be changed before the next time Oregon re-evaluates our high priority chemical list in 2024.
OEC will not stop working to strengthen protections to keep hazardous substances out of children’s bodies and landfills. However, we can’t do it alone. Oregon’s legislators and rule-makers need to understand that regulating harmful chemicals is something our communities demand as a top priority.