Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter IV. Restrictions on Phosphate Cleaners.


§ 8–107.01. Definitions.

For the purposes of this subchapter, the term:

(1) “Cleaning agent” means soaps and detergents used for domestic or commercial cleaning purposes, including the purposes of cleaning fabrics, dishes, eating and cooking utensils, homes, or commercial premises, but the term does not include cosmetics and personal hygiene products like toothpaste, shampoo, and hand soap.

(2) “Trace quantity of phosphorus” means the portion of a cleaning agent, not more than 0.5% of the weight of the cleaning agent, that constitutes all of the phosphorus in the cleaning agent.


(Mar. 25, 1986, D.C. Law 6-98, § 2, 33 DCR 723.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 6-971.


§ 8–107.02. Sale and use of phosphate cleaners prohibited; exceptions; manufacturer’s package statement; testing of products for compliance; exemptions for use of noncomplying cleaners; rules and regulations; annual report by Mayor.

(a) Except as provided in subsection (e) of this section, after 180 days after March 25, 1986, no cleaning agent may be used, sold, or furnished in the District of Columbia if it contains a phosphorous compound in a concentration exceeding a trace quantity of phosphorus, except that a cleaning agent with more than a trace quantity of phosphorus may be used for cleaning health care equipment, for use by any commercial or institutional laundry in providing laundry services for a hospital or health care facility; for cleaning food processing equipment, beverage and dairy products handling and processing equipment, and other institutional and industrial applications meeting the requirements of subsection (e) of this section, and designed specifically for cleaning dishes washed in dishwashers.

(b) Except as provided in subsection (e) of this section, after 180 days after March 25, 1986, no cleaning agent for use in dishwashers may be used, sold, or furnished in the District of Columbia if it contains elemental phosphorus exceeding 0.5% by weight.

(c) A manufacturer may state on packages containing the cleaning agent which the manufacturer has produced either of the following:

(1) The percentage of the mass of the cleaning agent comprised of elemental phosphorus according to the chemical weight of the product as compared to the chemical weight of the cleaning agent itself; or

(2) That the cleaning agent conforms to the requirements stated in subsections (a) and (b) of this section.

(d)(1) If a package containing a cleaning agent does not, in writing, present either of the 2 statements suggested in subsection (c) of this section, then the Mayor of the District of Columbia (“Mayor”) shall test the cleaning agent to determine whether it complies with subsection (a) or (b) of this section.

(2) Except as provided in subsection (e) of this section, the Mayor shall prohibit from being marketed in the District of Columbia a cleaning agent that does not conform to this section.

(e) After the Mayor issues rules for applying for and receiving an exemption from the obligations in subsection (a) or (b) of this section, the Mayor may permit the use of cleaning agents that do not comply with subsection (a) or (b) under the following circumstances:

(1) Complying with subsection (a) or (b) of this section would create a significant hardship on the consumers using the cleaning agent;

(2) Complying with subsection (a) or (b) of this section would be unreasonable because an adequate substitute is not available;

(3) Complying with subsection (a) or (b) of this section would disrupt research clearly designed for scientific purposes and not intended to circumvent the purpose of this subchapter; or

(4) Complying with subsection (b) of this section may be impracticable for persons using commercial dishwashers; provided, that dishwashing detergents designed for use in commercial dishwashers shall not be used, sold, or furnished in the District of Columbia if it contains elemental phosphorus equal to or greater than 8.7% by weight.

(f)(1) The Mayor shall issue rules to implement the provisions of this subchapter pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 5 of Title 2.

(2) The Mayor shall transmit the rules required by this section to the Council of the District of Columbia (“Council”) for a 30-day period of review, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, legal holidays, and days of Council recess, during which the Council may approve or disapprove, in whole or in part, the rules by resolution. If the Council does not approve or disapprove the rules during the 30-day review period, then the rules shall be considered approved at the expiration of the 30 days.

(g) The Mayor shall report annually, in writing, to the Council on March 1 the reasons for and the number of exemptions granted pursuant to this section and shall identify each person or organization granted an exemption by name and address.


(Mar. 25, 1986, D.C. Law 6-98, § 3, 33 DCR 723; Mar. 31, 2011, D.C. Law 18-336, § 7, 58 DCR 605.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 6-972.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 8-107.03, § 8-107.04, and § 8-108.04.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 18-336, in subsec. (b), substituted “0.5%” for “8.7%”; in subsec. (e), deleted “or” from the end of par. (2), substituted “; or” for a period the end of par. (3 ), and added par. (4).

Editor's Notes

Section 8 of D.C. Law 18-336 provided: “Sec. 8. Applicability. This act shall apply as of July 1, 2011.”

Delegation of Authority

Delegation of authority pursuant to Law 6-98, see Mayor’s Orders 86-102, June 19, 1986; 87-48, February 17, 1987.


§ 8–107.03. Seller’s burden in civil action.

Concerning a civil action against the seller for injuries resulting from violations of this subchapter, a seller has the burden of proving that the cleaning agent complies with § 8-107.02.


(Mar. 25, 1986, D.C. Law 6-98, § 4, 33 DCR 723; Feb. 24, 1987, D.C. Law 6-192, § 6, 33 DCR 7836.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 6-973.


§ 8–107.04. Criminal prosecutions; penalties for violations of subchapter.

(a) If the Mayor determines that a cleaning agent does not comply with § 8-107.02(a) or (b) and has not been exempted according to § 8-107.02(e), then the Mayor shall bring an action for criminal violation of this subchapter in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

(b) A person who uses a cleaning agent in violation of this subchapter shall be fined no more than $15.

(c) A person who offers for sale at retail or furnishes a cleaning agent in violation of this subchapter shall be subject to a fine, upon conviction, not to exceed $500 for the 1st offense and a fine not to exceed $1,000 for the second and subsequent offenses.

(d) The Mayor may seize any cleaning agent held for sale in violation of this subchapter. Cleaning agents seized under this subsection shall be forfeited to the District of Columbia.

(e) Civil fines, penalties, and fees may be imposed as alternative sanctions for any infraction of the provisions of this subchapter, or any rules or regulations issued under the authority of this subchapter, pursuant to Chapter 18 of Title 2. Adjudication of any infraction of this subchapter shall be pursuant to Chapter 18 of Title 2.


(Mar. 25, 1986, D.C. Law 6-98, § 5, 33 DCR 723; Mar. 8, 1991, D.C. Law 8-237, § 17, 38 DCR 314.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 6-974.

Delegation of Authority

Delegation of authority pursuant to Law 6-98, see Mayor’s Order 87-48, February 17, 1987.