Sustainability Is Driving Toxic Chemicals from Products - NR&E | Winter 2011
Many chemicals now classified as “toxic” based on exposure of test animals or humans at high levels have long been used in the manufacture of products. The Environmental Protection Agency, states, and even retailers are taking preventive action to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals. Adopting more sustainable products as a matter of regulatory or statutory policy may require, or at least provide an incentive for, removal of “toxic” chemicals from products. This process highlights the inevitable trade-offs between the desire to expedite the existing chemical regulatory process and the economic burdens resulting from removing chemicals in some cases that may not present as significant a risk as these policies assume. To adapt Thomas Jefferson’s statement concerning political liberty, the price of economic liberty is regulatory vigilance. This article examines how existing United States laws, proposed federal bills, recent state laws, European laws, and current private sector policies balance these factors.