The Vermont House of Representatives has passed legislation (S. 239) that would givethe state’s Health Department the authority to regulate purportedly harmful chemicalsin children’s consumer products. Passed by a 114-27 vote, the bill, significantly narrowerthan the Senate’s proposal (passed on March 2014), will next go to a conferencecommittee to iron out the differences before it is sent to Governor Peter Shumlin (D).

According to industry sources, a key difference between the two bills is that theamended House bill covers products sold for use by children 12 years old andyounger only. A second difference concerns the state health commissioner’senforcement authority. In the House version, the commissioner must gain approvalfrom the Chemicals of High Concern to Children Working Group (CHCWG) andnavigate an apparently complex rulemaking process before limiting the sale ordistribution of non-compliant products.

The Senate bill, on the other hand, requires consultation with CHCWG only beforeenforcement actions can be implemented. Both bills included a list of 66 purportedlyharmful chemicals, including certain phthalates, bisphenol A, formaldehyde,toluene, and benzene. The health commissioner wouldhave the discretion to add more chemicals to the list. Manufacturers of products subject to the legislationwould be required to report chemicals of concern in concentrations of 100 parts per million, or levels above practical quantification limits. They would also be required to report toxic chemicals found in their products and pay a $200 fee every two years for each chemical reported. See, April 29, 2014.