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NY Panel Proposes 85 Chemicals to Avoid under State Procurement Policy

(Beyond Pesticides, January 5, 2010) A New York state panel is proposing a list of 85 chemicals that state agencies must avoid buying, a measure short of a ban that may drive industry to produce fewer toxic products, including those that can cause cancer. The proposal, reported by the Associated Press, would leverage the state’s extensive buying power, complying with New York Governor David Paterson’s 2008 Executive Order No. 4, Establishing a State Green Procurement and Agency Sustainability Program. This order directs state agencies, public authorities and public benefit corporations to green their procurements and implement sustainability initiatives, including minimizing pesticide use by state agencies.

The “chemical avoidance list” comes from an advisory council, the Interagency Committee on Sustainability and Green Procurement, that wants some $9 billion in annual state purchasing used to help rid the marketplace of toxic chemicals, including likely carcinogens. Advocates point to environmental contamination and human exposure from use, manufacturing and disposal of items that have even small quantities of substances like mercury.

The final recommendations will be posted and subject to public comment, however no dates have been set. Anne Rabe, an advisory council member from the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), said the effort follows similar steps by local governments in New York’s Suffolk County and states including Massachusetts, California, Maine and Washington.

A handful of substances on the list, including pesticides and clothing flame retardants, are already banned by the state, Ms. Rabe said. Others include components of solvents, herbicides, plastics, preservatives, glues, carpets, paints, dyes and lubricants.

“It drives the market toward safer products,” said Dr. Ted Schettler, adviser for the advocacy group Science and Environmental Health Network. He noted federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies show widespread exposure of Americans to several hazardous chemicals in consumer products.

J. William Wolfram, director of Global Regulatory Affairs from the Schenectady chemical company SI Group, told a committee of state purchasing officials this week that the simple list fails to address human exposure and calculate actual risk. “It doesn’t have any information about allowable concentrations of materials in products,” Wolfram said. “There has to be some reasonableness about this. … You don’t say this is a hazardous material, case closed, we’re done.”

For more information on New York’s efforts to reduce toxic chemicals and pesticides, read Beyond Pesticides’ Daily News Blog.

Source: The Associated Press


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