Gino DiCaro

Chemical phase-out moved-up?

By Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications

Capitol Update, April 4, 2008 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

A bill introduced by Senator Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro), SB 1313, prohibits the manufacture, sale or distribution of any food contact substance that contains perfluorinated compounds in a concentration exceeding 10 parts per billion as of January 1, 2010.  It also prohibits manufacturers from replacing perfluorinated compounds with certain carcinogens and reproductive toxins and requires manufacturers to use alternatives with the least hazardous traits.

Perfluorinated compounds have been used in the manufacture of stain- and grease-proof coatings in a wide variety of consumer products for more than a half century.  Concerns have been raised due to the biopersistence of some of these chemicals. The production of one type of perfluorinated compounds, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), ceased a number of years ago in the United States.  No scientific evidence has been found to link the other prevalent form of perfluorinated compounds, perflurooctanoic acid (PFOA), to increased human health risk.  

All eight of the current manufacturers of PFOA have signed an agreement with US EPA to voluntarily phase-out the production of PFOA’s by 2015.  They expect to achieve a 95 percent reduction by 2010 and many of them have announced that they are on track to meet or exceed the 2015 target.

This legislation has been introduced at a time when the California Environmental Agency’s (Cal EPA’s) "Green Chemistry Initiative" is in its final development phase.  This proposal on perfluorinated compounds is a prime example of the type of chemical whose continued production and use should be evaluated by the scientific community. Leaving it in the hands of Cal EPA rather than pushing it through the Legislature is preferred. The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), Cal EPA’s scientific arm, has already twice studied whether or not PFOA should be included on its Proposition 65 list of carcinogens or reproductive toxins and has twice determined that there wasn’t sufficient justification.

Manufacturers have been acting responsibly and in a timely manner to reduce the use of these chemicals and their efforts have been bearing results.  This bill would undermine the orderly transition already underway.  Users of these chemicals are concerned that a speed-up on the timetable for compliance could result in insufficient availability of viable alternatives for all applications by 2010.  CMTA opposes this bill.

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