Science trumped

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, June 26, 2008 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

California legislators, most without a scientific background, have skeptically accepted the testimony of environmental activist groups and allowed four bills that ban or restrict the use of chemicals (or the products of chemicals) to pass their last legislative policy committees.  In spite of the effect on business and although the science does not justify such bans, legislators chose to "play it safe" per the precautionary principle and err on the side of being overly restrictive.  

The bills are:
    •    AB 2505 (Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica) bans polyvinyl chloride (PVC) packaging containers in certain applications as of January 1, 2010.  While maintaining that PVC is toxic, the author exempted food and pharmaceuticals products, apparently to lessen the opposition.  The bill would ban PVC containers for nuts and bolts, for example, but ignores the fact that PVC is approved for conveyance of drinking water.  It is also the preferred product in aquariums.  In addition, AB 2505 creates an onerous new burden on California businesses by requiring each person that manufacturers, imports, sells, or distributes any plastic packaging (not just PVC) to certify that the container is in compliance with this law.

    •    SB 1313 (Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro) prohibits the manufacture, sale, or distribution of any food contact substance that contains perfluorinated compounds in any concentration exceeding 10 parts per billion as of January 1, 2010.  In the interest of minimizing public concern, manufacturers signed an agreement with the U.S. EPA to voluntarily cease production of specific perfluorochemicals (above a certain carbon length chain) due to bio-persistence in the bloodstream.  Doing so in spite of the fact that there is no credible link to human health risk.  This bill moves up the date of the ban and makes it mandatory.  It also bans almost all perflurochemicals, including the majority of those that are being developed to replace the chemicals which are bio-persistent.

    •    SB 1712 (Carole Migden, D-San Francisco) would consider, as of January 1, 2009, lipstick bearing traces of lead as an adulterated cosmetic.  Manufacturers would have to provide evidence and certify that the lipstick was tested and found to contain no more than an "unavoidable trace" of lead.  The bill, though, doesn’t define "trace" and it ignores the fact that lead is not intentionally added to lipstick (very minute amounts are often found in the soil where coloring minerals are obtained).  Furthermore, the amount of lead that is transferred into the blood stream through lipstick is insignificant.  A California manufacturer testified that this bill would essentially ban lipstick in this state.

    •    SB 1713 (Migden) bans the manufacture, sale or distribution of bisphenol-A in detectable levels in toys, childcare articles or liquid food and beverage containers intended for children under three.  It also requires manufacturers to use the least toxic alternative when replacing bisphenol-A in their products.  To date, no government has banned bisphenol-A.  Few products have been so thoroughly tested.  

AB 2505 and SB 1713 still have to clear the Senate Appropriations Committee.  All four bills will also have to pass the floor of both houses.  CMTA will continue to oppose these unscientifically-grounded bills.

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