Skip to main content

Vermont Green Chemistry Law Excludes Food and Beverages and their Packaging; Includes Products for Feeding Children

Vermont became the most recent state to enact a green chemistry law when Governor Peter Shumlin signed S.239 on June 10, 2014. Act No. 188 (S.239) requires manufacturers of children's products or trade associations representing the manufacturers to notify the state's Department of Health (DOH) if any of their products contain a chemical of high concern if that chemical was intentionally added in an amount above a level deemed safe, or if the chemical is present as a contaminant above 100 parts per million. A child is defined as an individual under 12 years of age.

The act lists 66 chemicals of high concern to children, including vinyl chloride, acrylonitrile, bisphenol A, diethyl phthalate, dibutyl phthalate, styrene, ethylene glycol, and cadmium and cadmium compounds, among others. Vermont's DOH may add chemicals to the high concern list if it determines that research has demonstrated that the chemical: (1) harms child development; causes cancer, genetic damage, or reproductive harm; disrupts the endocrine system; damages the nervous system, immune system, or organs; or is a persistent bioaccumulative toxin; and (2) has been found to be present in blood, breast milk, human tissue, the home environment, or the natural environment.

Children's products are defined as any consumer product marketed for use by, marketed to, sold, offered for sale, or distributed to children in the State of Vermont and include children's cosmetics, products that help a child with teething or sleep, and products for the feeding of a child. Products that are exempt from the definition of "consumer product" and "children's products," include food and beverages and additives thereto, tobacco, drugs, biologics, medical devices, and product packaging. DOH may prohibit the sale of a children's product containing a chemical of high concern or impose labeling requirements, except that no product bans will take effect within two years of a final rule adopted pursuant to the law, unless the Commissioner of Health considers it necessary to protect human health.

The reports by manufacturers or trade associations representing manufacturers regarding products containing chemicals of high concern to children are due to DOH beginning on July 1, 2016, and biennially thereafter. DOH is then required to post on its website the information submitted by manufacturers or trade association. However, if a chemical in a product is a trade secret, DOH will only post the class of the chemical and its health effects. A fee of $200.00 is required for each notice provided and violations are subject to a civil penalty of not more than $10,000.00 per violation.