Washington product regulation moves forward with Department of Ecology

Washington State has become a global player in product regulation. This month, the Department of Ecology issued a ruling to restrict or require reporting on the use of five classes of chemicals in products. In some cases, the restrictions can be first-class — depending on how Ecology implements the determination — meaning manufacturers may need to change the composition of their products to continue selling in Washington. This month’s action requires Ecology to finalize the determination in a regulation by June 1, 2023.


In 2019, Washington signed into law the nation’s toughest chemicals bill. On five-year cycles, Ecology is empowered to take regulatory action to reduce the use of priority chemicals in priority products and packaging. These regulatory actions may include restricting or prohibiting certain uses of priority chemicals, or requiring manufacturers to disclose certain uses of priority chemicals to Ecology. In deciding whether to restrict priority chemicals, ecology should consider a chemical’s existing uses, potential exposures (including exposures to the environment, susceptible species and subpopulations) and the availability of safer alternatives.

Ecology’s recent decision is part of the first “round” of restrictions. A new cycle will begin next year and out-of-cycle restrictions may also be underway.

Determination and next steps

The ecology’s recent ruling will go into effect unless the state legislature takes action to reverse or modify it. If the legislature does not act, Ecology must propose and then finalize regulations consistent with the determination by June 1, 2023. There will be several opportunities for public comment and other input over the next year.

Ecology will use the rulemaking process to determine the scope and details of the final rules. For example, ecology may eventually refine or narrow the scope of products, enact concentration limits, and include exemptions. During the rulemaking process, Ecology will also develop compliance dates for restrictions and reporting requirements. It will be important for Ecology to hear from product manufacturers over the coming year.

Priority product

Regulatory determination

Organohalogen flame

retarders (HFR)

Electrical and electronic equipment (plastic device


Restriction on HFRs in external plastic enclosures of electrical and electronic devices intended for indoor use. Declaration of HFRs in external plastic enclosures of electrical and electronic devices intended for outdoor use.

HFR and some organophosphate flame retardants (OPFR)

Polyurethane Foam Recreational Products

Restriction on HFRs and OPFRs in the scope of uncovered polyurethane foam, groundsheets and covered flooring and outdoor recreation products. Declaration of HFRs and OPFRs in scope in covered wall padding.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)

Rugs and carpets

Restriction on PFAS in carpets and rugs.


Leather and textile furniture

Restriction on PFAS in interior leather and textile furniture. PFAS reporting in leather and textile outdoor furniture.


Alternative stain and water treatments

Restriction on PFAS in aftermarket treatments applied to consumer textile and leather products.

Phenolic compounds (bisphenols)

Food and beverage cans (can liners)

Restriction on most bisphenols in beverage can coatings. Reporting of most bisphenols in food can liners.

Phenolic compounds (bisphenols)

thermal paper

Restriction on bisphenols in thermal paper.

Phenolic compounds (alkylphenol ethoxylates)


Restriction on ethoxylated alkylphenols in laundry detergents.


Vinyl floor

Restriction on orthophthalates in vinyl flooring.


Personal care and beauty products (perfumes)

Restriction on orthophthalates used in fragrances for personal care and beauty products.

© 2022 Beveridge & Diamond PC National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 164

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