Gino DiCaro

Chemicals “of concern” in consumer products

By Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications

Capitol Update, April 25, 2008 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Initially AB 1879 (Mike Feuer, D-Los Angles) was introduced with not much substance, stating legislative intent to regulate chemicals known to be hazardous to the health of California citizens and the environment.  The author has recently amended it to dictate Cal/EPA’s Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) on how to set up a program identifying "chemicals of concern" in consumer products.  

With Cal/EPA only 3 weeks away from unveiling their recommendations describing a framework for their Green Chemistry Initiative, this legislation is premature.  CalEPA’s12-month effort has been transparent with stakeholders involved in the process.  AB 1879 does not include the industrial stakeholder community in its process.

In addition, AB 1879 lists  "chemicals of concern" that appear arbitrary.  The fact that the state has acted to restrict some of these substances in certain applications does not automatically mean they are "toxic" to humans in all applications.  Further, the bill lacks any specific science-based criteria or process to add or delete chemicals from this list.  These specific issues and answers to these questions deserve further vetting before being written into law.

Suggesting that the mere presence of a chemical in consumer products is cause for concern without scientific merit is alarming.  This contradicts the central principle of the science of toxicology:  the degree of toxicity is dependent upon the dose or concentration.  The United States EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, readily acknowledge that there are dose levels that are without any appreciable risk of deleterious effects over a lifetime of exposure, including exposures of sensitive subgroups.

AB 1879 imposes yet another regulatory program on manufacturers and assumes that these federal programs, coupled with California’s own myriad of laws and regulatory programs (many of which are more stringent than their federal counterparts) are not adequately protecting public health and the environment.  One core aspect of the California Green Chemistry Initiative is to assess existing programs and regulations and recommend future policy changes to address any identified gaps.

The bill sailed through committee hearings, passing along party lines.  It is now parked in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  CMTA and 16 other industry associations oppose this bill.

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