Old “Friends” Are Back: Biomonitoring, Chemical Testing & Cosmetics

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, Feb. 25, 2005 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Senator Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) and Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland) have introduced SB 600 establishing the Healthy Californians Biomonitoring Program under the auspices of the Department of Health Services.

Recognizing what opponents were saying about previous legislative attempts on this subject, the authors of SB 600 do not name specific chemicals, but leave the selection up to an advisory panel. The panel does not include environmental activists. Funding for the program would be appropriated by the Legislature (which may be a problem this year), rather than from chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors. The bill does not draw a nexus between mere presence in the body and automatic harm, a claim in last year’s SB 1168 (Ortiz), disputed by the U.S. Center for Disease Control.

On the other hand, Assemblymember Wilma Chan (D-Oakland) has introduced two bills similar to bills authored last year and opposed by CMTA. AB 289, Hazardous Chemical Testing Methods, is very, very similar to her AB 1940 which died on the Assembly floor last year. This bill would require each manufacturer, importer or distributor of a high production volume or reportable chemical to provide the California Environmental Protection Agency with test methods, including chemical biomarkers of exposure, the octanol water coefficient, and the bioconcentration factor for that chemical. Developing these test methods can be very expensive and are considered proprietary.

The second bill introduced by Chan is AB 319, Phthalates and Bisphenol-A in Children’s Products. While last year’s phthalate bills, AB 2012 and AB 2025, both by Assemblymember Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), dealt with outright bans on cosmetics, this year’s version targets a prohibition on the manufacture, sale or distribution in commerce of products, above an unnamed threshold, that would essentially come into contact or use by a child under the age of 3. A new perceived threat apparently is Bisphenol-A, a building block used primarily to make polycarbonate plastic and inert epoxy resins. To our knowledge, there is not credible scientific evidence that phthalates or Bisphenol-A present a threat to public health.
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