In the U.S., the regulation of chemicals in consumer products at the state level is not harmonized, a patchwork approach that is challenging to all involved. This fact sheet provides a summary of the approaches that different states have taken in regulating chemicals such as banning or restricting certain chemicals or enacting mandatory reporting/notification requirements, mandatory labeling, and mandatory disclosure of certain chemicals under specific conditions.


State regulation of chemicals is not new. Whenever federal regulatory programs have been de-emphasized, states have proceeded on their own to address perceived gaps in regulatory protections. The adoption of Proposition 65 by California voters in 1986 is an excellent example of this dynamic, with proponents of the initiative arguing that federal programs provided inadequate protections against carcinogens and reproductive toxicants. As federal efforts to regulate chemicals has languished, a growing number of states (e.g., Maine, Minnesota, and Washington) identified chemicals of concern and established their own disclosure and reporting programs. The compliance complexities created by different state level regulatory frameworks has renewed the business community’s interest in a harmonized, national approach. 

A broad coalition of stakeholders worked to reform the Toxic Substances 

Control Act (TSCA), which is the primary federal statute governing assessment and control of toxic substances. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (LCSA) was passed in 2016 ushering in TSCA reform. Among 

other requirements, this reform mandates that the Environmental Protection Agency

 (EPA) conduct health and environmental based risk evaluations for certain 

existing and all new chemicals on a strict timeline. EPA also now has more 

authority to require testing, impose labeling requirements, identify use 

restrictions, or outright eliminate a risky chemical on a phased schedule. 

These changes are expected to eventually lead to improved public health

 and a cleaner environment.

The political coalition backing TSCA reform basically agreed to limit 

state’s authority to regulate chemicals in exchange for a more effective 

federal regulatory program.

Under the reform, states are generally pre-empted from regulating chemicals 

more strictly than the federal government. Existing state chemical regulatory 

programs (adopted prior to April 22, 2016) are grandfathered in and state controls 

in effect on August 31, 2003 are not preempted. Because federal implementation 

of the TSCA reforms has proceeded more slowly than expected, states have 

continued to adopt regulations to fill the perceived gaps in regulating 

chemicals, including those found anywhere from food packaging to 

children’s products to consumer products in general.

So how does all of this impact retailers? Retailers and brands with store fronts face 

demands from consumers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). 

 Even if a law does not specifically ban or restrict the use of these 

chemicals/chemical groups in consumer products, retailers and brands are 

often under pressure from consumers to avoid stigmatized  chemicals. 

As a result, many retailers are adopting product curation programs that 

encourage suppliers to formulate away from chemicals of concern to improve 

their marketability and to eliminate the regulatory burden of tracking and reporting 

that is associated with  those substances.

State approaches

States have approached the regulation of chemicals in consumer products in a 

myriad of ways including mandatory disclosure or reporting, and chemical 

bans or restrictions. In some cases, the regulation covers specifically 

named chemicals, a chemical group such as mercury compounds, a chemical 

class such as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) or a functional class 

such as flame retardants. In other cases, the regulation may cover 

specific types of consumer products such as toys while other regulations

are broader and regulate consumer products in general.

Below provides illustrative examples of the various methods that states have 

employed to regulate chemicals of concern.


  • Cosmetics Products

  • Specifically named chemicals; Chemical groups

  • Administered by California’s Department of Public Health (CDPH). 

          Beginning on ' January 1, 2022, manufacturers of cosmetic products 

          that contain certain flavor and fragrance ingredients will be required

          to disclose certain information about their products to California’s

          Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control 

          within the State Department of Public Health. 


  • Administered by California’s Department of Toxic Substances 

         Control (DTSC). Effective  January 1, 2025, the manufacture, 

         sale, delivery, holding or offering for sale in commerce

         of any cosmetic product that contains any of the 12 

         specifically listed intentionally added ingredients is banned.          

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billCompareClient.xhtml bill_id=201920200AB2762&showamends=false

  • Menstrual Products
  • Specifically named chemicals; Chemical groups

  • Administered by California’s Department of Public Health 

          (CDPH). The package label for menstrual products 

          manufactured on or after January 1, 2023 shall disclose 

          all ingredients in the product. 

  https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billCompareClient.xhtml? bill_id=201920200AB1989&showamends=false

  • Cleaning Products

  • Specifically named chemicals; Chemical groups

  • Administered by California’s Department of Toxic Substances 

         Control (DTSC). Requires manufacturers (entity whose 

         name appears on the label) to disclose on the product label and their 

         website any of the listed chemicals or chemicals groups identified 

         in the Act if used  in a ‘cleaning product.


  • All products; Drinking water
  • Specifically named chemicals; Chemical groups
  • Administered by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard

         Assessment (OEHHA). Proposition 65 prohibits knowing discharge of 

        listed chemicals into drinking water as well as requiring that “person in the

        course of doing business” provide warnings on products which contain listed 



  • Consumer Products

  • Seven consumer product categories

  • The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has amended California’s Consumer Products Regulation to reduce Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) limits in personal fragrance products, aerosol crawling bug insecticides, manual aerosol air fresheners and 4 hair care product categories. Effective dates for some of the above start as soon as 2023.  https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/news/board-tightens-regulations-smog-forming-compounds-household-products


  • Sunscreens

  • Sunscreens containing Oxybenzone or Octinoxate

  • Administered by Hawaii’s Department of Health (DOH). Statute 

          bans the sale of sunscreen containing listed substances without 

          a prescription.       



  • Children's Products
  • Specifically named chemicals; Chemical groups; Function

  • Administered by Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). 

         A manufacturer or distributor of a children’s product that contains a priority 

        chemical above the de minimis level shall notify the DEP. An Alternatives 

        Assessment (AA) may be required. The definition of manufacturer includes

       anyone “…whose brand name is affixed to the consumer product. 


  • Cosmetics Products

  • Specifically named chemicals; Chemical groups

  • Sale of cosmetics developed or manufactured using animal testing

           is prohibited after November 1, 2021.



  • Cosmetics Products

  • Specifically named chemicals; Chemical groups

  • Maryland’s Department of Health administers Maryland’s – Cosmetic 

          Products –  Ingredient Prohibition Act. Effective January 1, 2025,

         the manufacture, sale, delivery, holding or offering for sale in 

        commerce of any cosmetic product that contains any of the 

        specifically listed intentionally added ingredients is banned. 



  • Children's Products
  • Specifically named chemicals
  • Administered by Minnesota’s Departments of Health (MOH). Prohibits the 

         sale of children’s products containing specifically listed chemicals. https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/2020/cite/325F?keyword_type=all&keyword_sg=statute&keyword=safe%2Btoys%2Bact

New York:

  • Consumer Products
  • Mercury
  • Administered by New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation 

        (DEC). Bans sale of mercury containing consumer products without the 

        specified labeling. https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/8853.html

  • Children's Products

  • Specifically named chemicals; Chemical groups

  • Administered by New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation 

         (DEC). Prohibits sale of children’s products containing specifically 

         identified chemicals. Regulated entities have reporting obligations 

         and notification obligations in addition to prohibition of sale of products 

         containing listed chemical (effective January 1, 2023). “A retailer is 

         exempt from the requirements…unless that retailer knowingly sells a 

        children’s product containing a dangerous chemical after the effective 

       date of its prohibition for which that retailer has received notification…”  



  • Children's products

  • Specifically named chemicals

  • Administered by Oregon’s Health Authority (OHA). Manufacturers 

         (including domestic distributors) must provide notice of children’s 

         products sold in Oregon every two years that contain intentionally 

        added High Priority Chemicals of High Concern for Children’s 

       Health (HPCCCH) at or above the practical quantification limits. 


  • Certain children's products

  • Specifically named chemicals (High Priority Chemicals of Concern for 

         Children’s Health (HPCCCH))

  • Oregon’s Health Authority (OHA) administers the Toxic Free Kids Act.

          By January 1, 2022, manufacturer’s must secure a waiver or exemption 

          or otherwise remove the listed substances of concern from certain 

         children’s products. This is the third and final phase of the multiple 

         year roll-out of the Toxic Free Kids Act.



  • Cosmetic products

  • The Virginia Humane Cosmetics Act is administered by Sale of cosmetics 

        developed or manufactured using animal testing is prohibited after 

        November 1, 2021.



  • Children's products
  • Specifically named chemicals
  • Administered by Washington’s Department of Ecology. Enacts limits 

         for specifically named chemicals as well as manufacturer reporting 

        obligations. “For the purposes of  this rule, a retailer of a '

        children’s product is not a manufacturer unless it is also the 

       producer, manufacturer, importer, or domestic distributor of the product.” 



What does the future hold?

The desire for safer and more sustainable consumer products is here to stay. A growing segment of consumers are demanding that suppliers move beyond compliance and ensure that chemicals in products are not just compliant with existing requirements but are ‘free’ of chemicals of concern. It should be no surprise that many retailers are responding to consumer preferences with product curation programs aimed at reducing the prevalence of chemicals of concern. The EPA’s slow roll out of the TSCA reforms over the past several years has meant that the promise of effective and consistent federal chemical regulation remains unfulfilled. As a result, state legislators continue to respond to citizen preferences for stricter controls over toxic substances. The proliferation of state programs with different lists of chemicals of concern and different regulatory requirements continue to complicate the compliance programs of both suppliers and retailers. These trends are likely to continue, although there are some signs that the worst aspects of unconstrained state action are being mitigated.

We are seeing examples of harmonization within a state (e.g., both the California cleaning product and cosmetics right-to know statutes use a common list of chemicals of concern) as well as harmonization across states (e.g., use of common reporting systems for reportable chemicals of concern in consumer products). In the near term, however, the overall landscape is likely to remain fragmented until the TSCA reforms are fully implemented and consumer confidence in the effectiveness of federal chemical regulation is restored.