Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Environmental Studies Program


Gail Carlson

Second Advisor

Philip Nyhus

Third Advisor

F. Russell Cole


Chemicals regulation under the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 fails to protect human health. In the absence of federal protection, safer chemicals legislation and implementation is moving forward in four states: Maine, Minnesota, California and Washington. Working in response to a loud public cry of concern and persistent grassroots organizing, these four states have enacted laws that regulate chemicals in consumer products. Maine, Minnesota and Washington chose to focus on regulating the chemicals used in children’s products, taking into consideration greater vulnerability in early development and the compelling public priority to protect children’s health. The most important factors to contributing to state leadership include: the presence of an active environmental health advocacy group that spreads awareness about the need for policy to protect human health; a supportive state legislature; an understanding of state-specific economic costs of inaction by the state legislature; stakeholder participation; and interstate information-sharing and communication about the regulatory process.


Priority Chemicals, Safer Alternatives, Chemical Reform, Toxic Substances Control Act, State Leadership, Environmental Health

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