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The Lead in Cookware Act of Washington State

Lead is a toxic substance found in various household products. To reduce the amount of lead exposure, Washington State passed the Lead in Cookware Act.

What is Washington’s The Lead in Cookware Act?

On March 28, 2024, Washington State’s governor, Jay Inslee, signed the Lead in Cookware Act (HB 1551). The Act is the first-in-the-nation legislation related to reducing lead in cookware. In other words, the Lead in Cookware law positioned Washington state as the pioneering jurisdiction in the nation to restrict the amount of lead content in cookware and cookware components produced or sold in the state. Accordingly, the legislation limits the lead and lead compound contents used in cookware and its components to five parts per million (ppm).

Lead in Cookware

What Falls Within the Scope of The Lead in Cookware Act?

According to the legislation, “Cookware” refers to metal pots, pans, bakeware, pressure cookers, rice cookers, and similar items utilized for cooking or storing food. The Act also applies to “Cookware Components”; which encompass accessories like lids, knobs, fasteners, handles and handle assemblies, vent pipes, rivets, and valves.

Who is Affected by the Lead in Cookware Regulation?

Starting January 1, 2026, the Lead in Cookware Act prohibits manufacturers from producing, selling, offering for sale, distributing for sale, or distributing for use in the state of Washington any cookware or a cookware component containing lead or lead compounds exceeding five parts per million.

As outlined in the legislation, “Manufacturer” encompasses any individual or entity, including persons, firms, associations, partnerships, corporations, governmental bodies, organizations, or joint ventures, engaged in producing a product or acting as an importer or domestic distributor of a product sold or offered for sale within or into Washington state.

Although retailers and wholesalers have the same obligations as the manufacturers, they are exempt from liability if they unknowingly sell restricted products.

Notably, the Act excludes selling or purchasing any previously owned cookware or its components containing lead sold by a nonprofit organization or an individual not involved in the product’s selling business.

What are Violations’ Penalties?

Individuals who violate any provisions of this Act or any rule or order issued under it may face civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation for a first offense. Additionally, subsequent violations may result in civil penalties of up to $10,000 per repeated offense.

Could the Lead in Cookware Act Become More Restrict in the Future?

According to the legislation, after December 2034, the Washington Department of Ecology, in collaboration with the Department of Health, may reduce the five parts per million threshold if it finds that the lower limit is:

  1. Achievable for manufacturers of cookware and cookware components
  2. Necessary for safeguarding human health, particularly vulnerable populations.

Why is it Important to Limit Lead in Products?

Lead is a metal toxic to humans and animals. In addition, it can negatively impact the environment.

Negative Impacts of Lead

For Humans:

Lead can accumulate in the body. Any level of lead exposure, particularly in children, poses significant risks. Harmful effects that lead and lead compounds can cause in humans include:

  • Cancer
  • Behavioral issues
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • High blood pressure
  • Anemia
  • Reproductive problems
  • Brain damage and mental retardation
  • Nerve disorders
  • Memory, concentration, and learning difficulties
  • Lowered IQ

For the Environment:

Lead also has negative impacts on the environment. This chemical is persistent in the environment and can build up in soils and sediments. Lead contamination can result in:

  • Biodiversity losses
  • Reduction in growth and reproductive rates in plants and animals
  • Neurological impacts in vertebrates.

Where is Lead Found?

Lead and lead compounds are in numerous products in and around our households. Examples of items containing lead are:

  • Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE)
  • Cookware
  • Paints
  • Batteries
  • Solders
  • Toys
  • Ceramics
  • Pipes
  • Gasoline
  • Cosmetics

Regulations Restricting Lead Used in Products Worldwide:

There are several regulations globally restricting the use of lead and lead compounds in various products, including:

  • RoHS
  • California Proposition 65
  • Packaging Directive
  • Battery regulation

Contact Enviropass if you want to know more about regulations restricting lead content in different products.