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July 8, 2010

Minnesota Issues List of Chemicals of High Concern

Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

On July 1, 2010, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) released its list of “chemicals of high concern.” Under the 2009 Toxic Free Kids Act, a “chemical of high concern” is a chemical “identified on the basis of credible scientific evidence by a state, federal, or international agency as being known or suspected with a high degree of probability to”:

  • Harm the normal development of a fetus or child or cause other developmental toxicity;
  • Cause cancer, genetic damage, or reproductive harm;
  • Disrupt the endocrine or hormone system;
  • Damage the nervous system, immune system, or organs, or cause other systemic toxicity;
  • Be persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic; or
  • Be very persistent and very bioaccumulative.

The Act instructs MDH to “consider chemicals listed as a suspected carcinogen, reproductive or developmental toxicant, or as being persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic, or very persistent and very bioaccumulative by a state, federal, or international agency. These agencies may include, but are not limited to, the California Environmental Protection Agency, the Washington Department of Ecology, the United States Department of Health, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the United Nation’s World Health Organization, and European Parliament Annex XIV concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals.”

According to MDH, it considered only hazard, not risk, in creating the list. MDH reviewed 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.” Under the Toxic Free Kids Act, in preparing the list of priority chemicals, MDH will consider information about chemicals found in the home environment, drinking water, indoor air, or the natural environment, or consider information that shows the chemical has been already found in humans. MDH states: “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.”

Under the Toxic Free Kids Act, MDH must compile the list of priority chemicals by February 2011, based on the list of chemicals of high concern. MDH will use the chemicals of high concern for selection of the priority chemicals. Because the Toxic Free Kids Act restricts priority chemicals to chemicals designated high production volume by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, only 413 chemicals on the list of chemicals of high concern are eligible for the priority chemicals list. MDH states that, “[w]hile 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.”

MDH considers the current list of chemicals of high concern to be a “‘work in progress,’ with future revision of the list likely.” The Toxic Free Kids Act requires MDH to review and revise the list of chemicals of high concern at least every three years. MDH notes that “[t]ime and resource availability will be factors in determining if the list will be revised more frequently.”