States, in alignment with market and federal strategies, can enact policies that will lead to a future where safer solutions replace toxic chemicals in products and processes.
Policies that require companies to disclose the ingredients in products and processes help ensure that they identify dangerous chemicals and that governments, communities, workers and consumers can prevent exposure to harmful chemicals.
Phasing out inherently hazardous (e.g. linked to cancer or developmental effects) chemicals such as PFAS, flame retardants, and certain plastics is the quickest way to stop the use of certain harmful chemicals. To ensure replacement chemicals or products are not just another toxic chemical, phase-outs should regulate entire classes of chemicals and require identification and use of safer alternatives.
Incentives and mandates can encourage the development and adoption of safer materials and chemicals to replace toxic chemicals in products and processes and the adoption of non-toxic reusables or other solutions. We must define “safer” to guide industry toward truly safer alternatives.
Toxic chemical manufacturers and key users should be held accountable for the harm caused to human health and the environment. Accountability measures include requiring industry to be held strictly liable for their actions or pay for medical monitoring, cleanup or to directly support impacted communities. Because manufacturer and user accountability often occurs as a result of lawsuits, government resources are needed to more quickly support affected communities or workers.
Policies should prioritize waste reduction and prevention, and avoid processes that create more toxic pollution such as so-called “chemical recycling”, creating fuel from plastics or incineration of PFAS. Policies should also prevent hazardous chemicals like PFAS and lead from being recycled.
There are actions that help set the stage for future policy action. This can include developing comprehensive strategies for prevention, mandating increased testing of toxic chemicals, and requiring agencies to conduct studies on environmental and health impacts.