EPA Proposes Safer Choice Standard Update


Earlier this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published proposed updates to the Safer Choice Standard, which identifies the requirements that products and ingredients must meet to earn the Safer Choice label or Design for the Environment (DfE) logo.

The change will also reportedly affect paint and coating manufacturers, as outlined in The Federal Register.

About the Standard

The Safer Choice program helps consumers and purchasers for facilities, such as schools and office buildings, find products made with chemical ingredients that are safer for human health and the environment.

Similarly, the DfE program helps people find disinfectants that meet high standards for human health and the environment.

This will reportedly be EPA’s fourth update of the standard since its inception in 2009, and the first since 2015. The EPA periodically updates it to:

  • Keep current with the state of scientific and technological innovation;
  • Increase transparency and reduce redundancy; and
  • Expand the scope of the program as appropriate.

“The Safer Choice program continues to encourage safer and greener chemistry in the marketplace to safeguard human health and protect the environment,” said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Deputy Assistant Administrator for Pollution Prevention Jennie Romer.

“These proposed updates to the Safer Choice Standard will increase transparency, safety, and sustainability in consumer and commercial products.” 

The proposed updates to the standard reportedly include:

  • New certification for cleaning service providers that use Safer Choice- and DfE-certified products to help protect workers that use cleaning products all day as well as the people who live or work in the spaces they clean;
  • Strengthening sustainable packaging requirements in response to consumer demand and innovations in packaging materials and technologies;
  • Expanded criteria specific to pet care products to ensure such products use only the safest possible ingredients for both humans and pets;
  • Clarifying language on EPA’s process for entering product classes and exiting those that pose unexpected risks despite safer chemistry;
  • Clarifying language regarding the use of data from New Approach Methodologies during Safer Choice chemical review;
  • New, optional energy efficiency or use reduction criteria to encourage companies to reduce water use and carbon-based energy consumption;
  • Updated criteria for wipe products to help reduce damage to wastewater treatment systems; and
  • Potential creation of a new alternate logo, similar to the Fragrance-Free logo, to distinguish products used outdoors that meet additional EPA criteria for environmental safety.

The agency will host a webinar on Dec. 19 from 2–3 p.m. ET to provide further information on the proposed updates to stakeholders interested in commenting on the updates, including manufacturers and distributors, retailers, community groups and representatives from states, Tribal Nations, non-profit organizations, trade associations and others.

Comments can be submitted to docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2023-052 until Jan. 16, 2024. The EPA explains that it will use the written comments to guide updates to the standard.

Recent Safer Chemical List Additions

At the beginning of the year, the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention announced in an emailed press release that the Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL) was being updated.

The SCIL serves as a living list of chemicals organized by the functional-use class that EPA’s Safer Choice program has evaluated and determined meets Safer Choice criteria. The update is part of the Agency’s ongoing efforts—announced in its 2021 PFAS Strategic Roadmap—to revisit past decisions about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and “address those that are insufficiently protective.”

With the update, there are a total of 1,064 chemicals listed on the SCIL.

In the update, the Agency shared that it was adding nine chemicals to the SCIL. The act of adding chemicals to the SCIL both supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s goals and incentivizes further innovation in safer chemistry, which can promote environmental justice, bolster resilience to the impacts of climate change and improve water quality.

The EPA also encouraged manufacturers to submit their safer chemicals to the Agency for review and list on the SCIL to increase the number of chemicals and the resource’s functional-use categories.


Tagged categories: Certifications and standards; Coating Materials - Commercial; Coatings; Construction chemicals; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); EPA; Good Technical Practice; Government; Health and safety; NA; North America; Paint; Program/Project Management; Regulations

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