A Regulatory Approach to Safer Products for Washington State

Grid of photos of fabric, gymnast, soda cans, computer component, and small child

Thursday, February 11, 2021
11:00 a.m.




Check out this video to watch the A Speaker Series Toxicology and Societies: The Impacts of Chemicals in Our Lives.

A Speaker Series Toxicology and Societies:
The Impacts of Chemicals in Our Lives 

Brought to you in partnership with the Huxley College of the Environment’s Institute of Toxicology and Chemistry and the WWU Alumni Association

Please join us for the next speaker in our series on Toxicology and Societies: The Impacts of Chemicals in our Lives.

Many consumer products and packages that we use in our daily lives contain toxic chemicals. Once hazardous chemicals are in consumer products, reducing exposure is challenging. It’s hard to predict how people will use consumer products and what they’ll do with them when they’re done. Contamination from hazardous chemicals in consumer products can transfer risks from consumers to communities, wildlife and environmental resources.

The traditional single chemical-product risk assessment approach struggles to manage the impacts of cumulative exposures to chemicals from consumer products, and does not capture the non-point source pollution that can be released into the environment during their use and disposal. In Washington state, we’re taking a different approach to understanding and addressing toxic chemicals in consumer products. In 2019, the Washington State Legislature passed the Pollution Prevention for Healthy People and Puget Sound Act.

The Department of Ecology developed the Safer Products for Washington Program to implement this law. Instead of conducting single chemical-product risk assessments, Safer Products for Washington focuses on reducing the use of classes of hazardous chemicals by moving to safer alternatives. This gives us the opportunity to reduce the impacts of hazardous chemicals across the product lifecycle—from manufacturing to disposal or reuse—and focus our efforts on pollution prevention instead of costly clean-ups.

This presentation will:

  • Overview of this philosophy of reducing hazardous chemicals in consumer products.
  • Share an update on the Safer Products for Washington Program.
  • Invite you to join future webinars on safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals in consumer products.

Our vision in developing this series was to support a better understanding of something that affects all of us. There are over 300,000 chemicals being produced and used in almost everything we wear, eat, and drink. How can you ever hope to understand when and where you or your family might be at risk from some of these chemicals? The short answer is, you can’t know everything about all of these substances, but you can learn more about how toxicology (the study of toxic substances) affects you and your society.

This seminar series aims to help you better appreciate, understand, and evaluate the many ways that manufactured chemicals interact with all humans on Earth. More information about the speaker series is available here.

Marissa Smith

Dr. Marissa Smith


Dr. Marissa Smith is a native Washingtonian. She earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from University of Washington in 2012 and 2019, respectively. While at the University of Washington her research focused on the interface between oceans and human health, the impact and variability in children’s exposures to environmental chemicals, developing decision tools for predictive toxicology models. She is currently a senior regulatory toxicologist at the Washington State Department of Ecology primarily working on the implementation of the Safer Products for Washington Program.

Ruth Sofield

Ruth Sofield


Ruth Sofield is a Professor of environmental toxicology and chemistry in the Huxley College of the Environment. She received her Ph.D. and M.S. in Environmental Science and Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. Ruth’s research group focuses on the effects of water and air pollution. Their current projects include the aquatic toxicity of microplastic and tire wear particles, and the use of moss as a biomonitoring tool for particulate matter. Ruth is a member of the Puget Sound Partnership Science Panel and the President of the Pacific Northwest Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Tracy Collier

Tracy Collier


Tracy Collier received his Ph.D. in Fisheries Sciences from the University of Washington. He has worked for over 45 years as a toxicologist, with more than 35 of those years spent at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, where he served as the director of a science division that employed up to 100 people, covering several disciplines, including environmental toxicology, analytical chemistry, harmful algal blooms, and watershed processes. He has over 175 scientific publications, and currently is an affiliate faculty at Western.

Upcoming Talks

February 25, 2021
Speaker: Michelle Chow, Washington Environmental Council
Title: The Environmental Injustice of Toxic Waste Sites

March 11, 2021
Speaker: Dr. Michael Okun (University of Florida Health Neuromedicine and Author of Living with Parkinson's Disease and Ending Parkinson's Disease)
Title: Living With and Ending Parkinson's Disease
Click here to register

Questions & Accommodations

Contact the WWU Alumni Association for this event. Feel free to call at (360) 650-3353 or email at alumni@wwu.edu if you have any questions or comments.

There will be auto-captions available for this event. To request closed captions, please mark the request on the registration form. Advance notice of three days to one week is appreciated.