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Minnesota updates chemicals of high concern list

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Minnesota's Department of Health (MDH) has added 66 substances to its chemicals of high concern list, and removed 28 of them. The list now totals 1,769 substances.

Under the Toxic Free Kids Act, updates are required at least once every three years. The law was passed in 2009.

The list is intended to identify chemicals that could be harmful to human or environmental health because they are known or suspected:

  • carcinogens;
  • reproductive or developmental toxicants;
  • systemic toxicants;
  • endocrine disruptors;
  • persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) substances; or
  • are very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB).

Of the 66 new substances, 53 are substances of very high concern (SVHCs) under REACH. Other authoritative listings reviewed for possible inclusion on the list were:

  • California Proposition 65;
  • the International Agency for Research on Cancer's lists of category 1, 2A or 2B carcinogens;
  • the National Toxicology Program’s report on carcinogens; and
  • Washington state's list of chemicals of high concern to children.

The 66 new substances include a number of chromates, the phthalate DINP, multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), the common solvent methyl ethyl ketone and the antifreeze ingredient, ethylene glycol.

In identifying substances to be removed, the department focused on substances with primary uses or applications not covered by the statute: namely, food and pharmaceuticals. This resulted in 28 being removed.

The last update, in 2013, involved removing 57 chemicals and adding 32. This reduced the number of substances that appeared on the first list, published in 2010, from 1,756 to 1,731.

Priority chemicals

Minnesota also maintains a priority chemical list that currently includes nine substances. That list has not changed since established, and consists of:

bisphenol A (BPA);
butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP);
dibutyl phthalate (DBP);
di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP);
decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE);
hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD);
cadmium; and

The Department of Health says that it is developing a prioritisation framework to “provide consistency and transparency” in naming new priority substances.The flame retardant tris(1, 3-dichloro-2-propyl)phosphate (TDCPP), and the chemical group nonylphenol and its ethoxylates, remain candidates for the list.

According to the MDH website, there are currently no requirements related to either the chemicals of high concern or the priority chemical lists in Minnesota. In other states, where similar lists have been required by statute, such as Maine and Washington, manufacturers or importers of chemicals may be required to report to the state government if the chemicals are within particular consumer products.

Interagency team

Earlier this year, the Department of Health partnered with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the Minnesota Department of Commerce to formally establish the Chemicals in Products Interagency Team (CPIT).

The goal of the CPIT is “to reduce the amount of chemical hazards in products, their dispersion into Minnesota’s environment, and their presence in the bodies of Minnesota citizens, especially our most vulnerable communities.”

According to the MDH 2016 update report, the three agencies will work in partnership to:

  • monitor chemicals present in products, humans and the environment;
  • educate consumers, vulnerable populations and businesses about chemical hazards and ways to avoid them; and
  • accelerate the development and use of safer alternatives.

The MDH also continues to track chemical legislation in other states, including in Washington, Maine and Vermont.

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