Vermont legislators have introduced S.239, An Act Relating to the Regulation of Toxic Substances. The legislation would require the state Department of Health to identify chemicals of high concern and publish a list of these chemicals. The list would be published on or before July 1, 2015 and published biennially moving forward and will be posted on the Department’s website. A chemical is deemed to be one of high concern if it is a priority chemical that meets one or more of the following criteria:
- It has been found through biomonitoring to be present in human blood, umbilical cord blood, breast milk, urine or other bodily fluids;
- It has been found through sampling and analysis to be present in household dust, drinking water, or elsewhere in the home environment; or
- It has been found through monitoring to be present in fish, wildlife, or the natural environment.
The legislation would also require a manufacturer of a consumer product containing a chemical of high concern to notify the Commissioner of Health that one of its products contains the chemical and to replace it with a safer alternative. If the manufacturer is unable to replace the chemical or receive a waiver, the legislation prohibits the sale of that product within the state of Vermont.
This proposed law is similar to the recent Maine, Washington and California consumer product programs. Vermont’s differs in several respects, particularly in the shift in burden of proof to the manufacturer. The law presumes a ban of a consumer product containing a chemical of high concern, and places the burden on the manufacturer to obtain a waiver from the State in order to continue sales of that product.