Sept. 15-21 is Pollution Prevention Week, and we’re taking the week to explore some of the ways Ecology is working to keep our air clean, our waters pure, and our communities safe from toxic chemicals.
Today, we’re looking at Ecology’s chemical action plans.
When it comes to protecting the environment, you need to have a strategy so you can prioritize potential problems and focus your efforts to find solutions. One of the ways Ecology does this is through chemical action plans.
With so many toxic chemicals being used today, we need to understand how they’re being used and, once used, what happens when they’re thrown away -- because there really is no "away." We need to find safer alternatives and collect or capture problem chemicals before they get into the environment.
What is a chemical action plan?
So far, Ecology has developed chemical action plans for four chemicals:
draft plan for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (learn more in our Aug. 7 blog post).
Case study: PBDE plan leads to safer alternatives
|Upholstered products and stuffed toys are |
often treated with flame retardants.
Animal studies have shown that exposure to PBDEs can impact brain development and alter hormone levels, while exposure in humans has been associated with developmental problems in children. And they potentially cause cancer.
Manufacturers voluntarily agreed to stop using two main varieties of PBDEs in 2004. In 2006, Ecology developed a Chemical Action Plan for PBDEs that looked at how to reduce the use of the third main variety, deca-BDE (learn more in our June 25 blog post). That led to a state law in 2007 that prohibited the use of deca-BDE in mattresses beginning in 2008; and in computers, televisions and residential furniture beginning in 2011.
It’s important to note that the PBDE Chemical Action Plan wasn’t simply a ban. The plan identified safer alternative chemicals to replace PBDEs, and exempted some uses, such as transportation.
Washington’s PBDE plan helped lead the way to a national agreement to eliminate deca-BDE in most products by 2012.
- Learn more about Ecology’s chemical action plans and Pollution Prevention Week.
- Contact Ecology's Pollution Prevention staff to receive assistance for your business.
- Read success stories from Ecology's Pollution Prevention work.