New strategies proposed to reduce toxics

March 7, 2013

By Staff

The public is invited to weigh in on new strategies being proposed to reduce the use of toxic substances in Washington.

Last fall, the Washington Department of Ecology convened a group of business, government, academic and nongovernmental leaders to come up with new approaches for reducing toxic chemical pollution in Washington. The department asked them to think outside their typical legal and political silos to find creative new approaches to toxics that would offer better human health, environmental and economic outcomes.

After several months of thoughtful discussion and hard work, the group delivered the results of its discussion to Gov. Jay Inslee and the leadership of the Legislature.

“These proposed strategies come from knowledgeable experts working alongside the Department of Ecology. The idea now is to begin a broader conversation about how to build on our state’s past accomplishments to reduce toxic chemicals,” Maia Bellon, the department’s newly appointed director, said in a news release.

“Reducing exposure to toxic chemicals is a public health priority, given our rising health care costs, worrisome health trends, and ongoing exposures,” Howard Frumkin, dean of the School of Public Health, University of Washington, said in the release.

Frumkin was a member of the workgroup.

“We don’t know as much as we’d like about how toxic chemicals affect health, but we can’t wait. We need to act, and we need to do so in ways that are sensible, fair, and evidence-based,” Frumkin said. “I believe that our state can come together to identify and implement creative, effective solutions. This white paper is a splendid start.”

The recommendations include establishing a new state policy to prefer safer chemicals and that Washington set clear priorities for reducing toxic chemicals.

The group’s recommendations describe some of the concerns with toxic chemicals in products and in the environment. It lays out some principals for management of toxic chemicals, and makes 12 recommendations to reduce exposures to toxic chemicals in Washington.

Recommendations include specific actions for toxic chemical reduction. Some ideas — such as establishing a Green Chemistry Center — can be implemented now. Others — like voluntary consumer labeling drawing attention to safer product ingredients and changes to the liability system for toxic chemicals — would need significant further study before decisions about them could be made.

Those interested in commenting and providing input are encouraged to do so. Mail comments by March 11 to Carol Kraege, Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600, or

Read the Washington Toxics Reduction Strategies Workgroup letter and white paper at



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