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Oregon's Toxic Household Products Law

Catherine M. Neumann, Sandra Giffin, Ronald Hall, Marilyn Henderson and Donald R. Buhler
Journal of Public Health Policy
Vol. 21, No. 3 (2000), pp. 342-359
DOI: 10.2307/3343331
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3343331
Page Count: 18
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Oregon's Toxic Household Products Law
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Abstract

In 1991, Oregon became the first state in the U.S. to require the addition of an aversive agent to ethylene glycol-containing antifreeze and methanol-containing windshield wiper fluid. This new law, entitled "Toxic Household Products (THP) Act," was designed to reduce pediatric and animal poisonings from accidental ingestion of these two potentially lethal consumer automotive products. While not the stated intention of the law, addition of aversive agents to consumer automotive products could also reduce adult poisonings associated with intentional (suicides or alcoholics ingesting methanol-containing windshield wiper fluid) or accidental exposures. This law went into effect April 30, 1995, following settlement of a lawsuit brought by the Chemical Manufacturing Specialties Association (CSMA), a trade group representing the five largest manufacturers of ethylene glycol-based antifreeze in the U.S. This paper discusses the major policy issues that arose following the passage of Oregon's THP Act. Major provisions of the law are provided along with a discussion of CSMA's opposition to the Act's implementation. A description of the eventual settlement that was reached with CSMA as well as the major components of Oregon Health Division's (OHD) enforcement program are also highlighted. Data are presented for 1987 through 1998 on the number of exposures and severity of effects for pediatric cases (children < 6 years old) following exposure to both of these potentially lethal automotive products. However, because of the low incidence of exposures each year, these data are insufficient to draw any conclusions on the impact of the THP Act.

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