EPA chemical safety

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced proposed updates to the Safer Choice Standard, which identifies the requirements that products and their ingredients must meet to earn EPA's Safer Choice label or Design for the Environment (DfE) logo. The Agency is requesting public comments on the proposed updates by Jan. 16, 2024, and will hold a webinar on Dec. 19, 2023, to provide information on proposed updates to the Standard.

The Safer Choice program helps consumers and purchasers for facilities, such as schools and office buildings, find cleaners, detergents, and other 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.

“The Safer Choice program continues to encourage safer and greener chemistry in the marketplace to safeguard human health and protect the environment,” says 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.” 

EPA’s proposed updates to the Standard 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.

• 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.

EPA periodically updates the Standard 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. This will be EPA’s fourth update of the Standard since its inception in 2009, and the first since 2015.