Washington’s Department of Ecology is proposing to amend the criteria for persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals (PBTs) in its Chemical Action Plans to be more aligned with current scientific information and other jurisdictions’ criteria. The agency expects to release preliminary draft rule language for public and stakeholder review by March 2016.
The proposed rulemaking would amend Chapter 173-333 of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC), which sets forth criteria used to identify a chemical as a PBT, provides a list of chemicals appropriate for Chemical Action Plan (CAPs) development, identifies the CAP development process, and details the CAP contents. According to the Department of Ecology:
Updating the chemical list and streamlining the CAP process will allow Ecology to focus limited resources on the chemicals of most concern. During this update [the agency] will evaluate the opportunity to provide consistency by aligning chemical criteria with other jurisdictions, such as the European Union. PBTs and other chemicals have been linked to a wide range of toxic effects in fish, wildlife, and humans, including effects on the nervous system, reproductive and developmental problems, immune-response suppression, cancer, and endocrine disruption. Reducing or eliminating these chemicals will protect human health and the environment. The rule update will incorporate recent scientific information relating to chemicals appropriate for CAP development. The rule update will consider improvements to the CAP development process based on [the agency’s] experiences from the completion of five previous CAPs [including mercury, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, lead and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons].
Washington’s PBT program, first implemented in 2007, aims to “reduce and phase-out the use, release, and exposure to PBTs in Washington in order to reduce and eliminate threats to human health and the environment.” The state’s current PBT list contains 25 substances, which presumably would be expanded under new identification criteria.