By Doug Farquhar
NCSL has released its review of state environmental health legislation for 2018.
In 2018, state legislatures introduced 3,486 bills relating to environmental health, enacting 686 of them. This is the most bills on environmental health NCSL has seen since it began tracking the issue in 2012.
Bills on environmental health have almost doubled in the past seven years.
The most common environmental health issue addressed by state legislatures was toxics and chemicals. The 46 legislatures in session in 2018 (Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Texas did not hold sessions) introduced 889 pieces of legislation regarding toxics and chemicals, enacting 226. The foremost issue was lead hazards, with 19 states passing 40 bills on lead.
Not far behind was the issue of food safety, with states enacting or adopting 188 of 898 bills introduced.
Drinking water was the third most popular issue, with 595 bills introduced and 109 enacted. California alone enacted 29 bills relating to drinking water. Legislation on perfluorochemicals (PFAS) in drinking water was adopted in Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington.
States enacted 130 bills on wastewater. Colorado enacted laws allowing the reuse of graywater. Hawaii enacted several bills regarding cesspools in the state. Maine enacted five bills related to wastewater, Maryland enacted 10, North Carolina enacted four and Virginia five.
Since 2012, states have introduced 22,727 bills relating to environmental health.
Doug Farquhar directs the Environmental Health Program at NCSL.