Several other states, including New York, Oregon, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine and Minnesota, are considering various types of legislation that would force industries to disclose their use of some chemicals in consumer products.
After Washington’s law went into effect, Rite Aid, Wal-Mart, Vi-Jon Inc., Western Family Foods, among others, indicated that their suppliers would reformulate children's products to eliminate parabens. Gap reported it was phasing out the phthalate DINP, which had been in clothing.
Kaufman, of the toy industry group, said phthalates are being replaced in toys. Even if the federal government doesn't recommend banning the three under study – DINP, DIOP and DIDP – toy makers probably won't use them, he said.
"I think people have some substitutes and wouldn't suddenly switch back,” he said.
But Kaufman cautioned that some other chemicals on the list are more difficult to replace. They may be the materials that give toy products the strength to be dropped, pulled, bitten and subjected to compression. Bisphenol A, the substance used to make tough polycarbonate plastic in safety goggles and bicycle helmets, is one example, he said.
Megan Schwarzman, a University of California, Berkeley, research scientist who specializes in green chemistry policy, called Washington's effort "a profound departure from the status quo."
"A lot of people have been asking for this information for a long time, to find out what chemicals are in our daily lives. In terms of everyday products, the information just isn't in the public domain. No one has ever required manufacturers to report that," Schwarzman said.
"Ultimately, public disclosure can motivate companies to start asking about the safety of the chemicals in their products, and speed up the shift from hazardous chemicals to safer ones.”
This article originally ran at Environmental Health News, a news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.