Toxic Free Kids Act: Chemicals of High Concern - Frequently Asked Questions - EH: Minnesota Department of Health

Toxic Free Kids Act
Chemicals of High Concern - Frequently Asked Questions
July 2010


Why did MDH create the Chemicals of High Concern list?
Legislation related to citizen concerns about chemicals used in consumer products, especially those that are intended for children, was passed in 2009 by the Minnesota Legislature and signed by the governor. The legislation requires MDH to create two lists of chemicals: Chemicals of High Concern and Priority Chemicals. The Chemicals of High Concern list, which was required to be published by July 1, 2010, will be used for selecting the Priority Chemicals. While in Minnesota there are no requirements for MDH beyond publishing the two chemical lists, in other states these types of lists will be used in creating requirements for manufacturers to report which products contain Priority Chemicals.

What types of chemicals are on the list?
The Chemicals of High Concern list contains a variety of chemicals such as pesticides, dyes, solvents, plasticizers, flame retardants, and many others. Each chemical has at least one hazard characteristic that causes it to qualify for the list, such as being neurotoxic, immunotoxic, or being persistent and bioaccumulative. For the full list of the criteria that could qualify a chemical for the list, see the statute quotation on the Chemicals of High Concern page.

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How was the list created?
Chemicals on the Chemicals of High Concern list were selected after reviewing the hazard characteristics of chemicals studied by other state, national and international agencies. A Chemicals of High Concern list from Maine was used a basis for the Minnesota Chemicals of High Concern list, but not all of the chemicals on the Maine list were used on the Minnesota list, and some additional chemicals were added to Minnesota’s list. A full description of how the list was created is available in the Minnesota Chemicals of High Concern List Methodology (PDF).

What will MDH do with this list?
MDH will use the Chemicals of High Concern for selection of the Priority Chemicals. Because the statue restricts Priority Chemicals to “High Production Volume” chemicals named by the Environmental Protection Agency, there are currently 443 chemicals that are eligible for the Priority Chemicals list.

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What does it mean if a chemical is on the list?
The legislation directs MDH to create a Chemicals of High Concern list that will be used for selection of chemicals for the Priority Chemicals. However, following the legislation, MDH considered only “hazard” and not “risk” for creation of the Chemicals of High Concern list. In other words, the list was created by reviewing animal studies and human data, when available, that provide information about the potential of the chemical to cause a health effect, without considering how people could be exposed to the chemical. The legislation for Priority Chemicals instructs MDH to consider information about chemicals are found in the home environment, drinking water, indoor air, or the natural environment, or to consider information that shows the chemical has been already found in humans. Therefore, the while Chemicals of High Concern list contains chemicals that could possibly be harmful under certain circumstances, the Priority Chemicals list will better reflect the potential contact with chemicals that the general public might experience and might be more useful in identifying potentially hazardous chemicals. The Priority Chemicals list will be published by February 1, 2011.

How often will the list be revised?
MDH considers the current Chemicals of High Concern list to be a “work in progress,” with future revision of the list likely. As more information about chemicals being studied by various agencies becomes available, MDH will need to assess whether this information affects which chemicals should be listed. Minn. Stat. 2010 116.9402 requires review and revision of the Chemicals of High Concern list at least every three years. Time and resource availability will be factors in determining if the list will be revised more frequently.

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Which other states have this type of list?
Minnesota is the third state to have this specific type of chemical list required by legislation. Two other states, Maine and Washington, have very similar legislation requiring similar chemical lists. Maine was the first state to have this legislation, termed Safer Chemicals in Children's Products. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) published a Chemicals of High Concern list in July 2009. Maine DEP is required to publish a Priority Chemicals list in January 2011.  

In Washington, 2008 legislation required the Washington Department of Ecology to publish one list under the Children's Safe Product Act, called Chemicals of High Concern for Children. This list is available within the proposed Chapter 173 -334 WAC Children's Safe Product - Reporting Rule.

Many other agencies, including several state environmental agencies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and international agencies have also created chemical lists containing chemicals that are believed to pose health or environmental concerns.

Updated Monday, 11-Mar-2019 08:54:31 CDT