Green chemicals

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Nov. 18, 2005 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

In late 2003, the California Assembly Speaker and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate commissioned Dr. Michael Wilson and The Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of California, Berkeley to produce a report recommending a policy for "Jobs and Public Health" for dealing with chemicals in California.  The study was supposed to have been completed by the end of 2004, but is now targeted for submission at the end of this year.

In 2005, 35 bills were introduced in the legislature pertaining to industrial chemicals.  The majority of these bills were fraught with assumptions about risk based on the precautionary principle.  Fortunately, only a couple bills were chaptered.  However, we expect many bills to resurface in 2006.

Dr. Wilson recently made a presentation to the Chemical Industry Council describing his review of the criteria for regulatory action and the difficulties of developing a sensible approach.  He appears to recognize the potential effect on the job market, the difficulty in assuaging all sides, the strengths and deficiencies of the current system, the need to balance risk and benefits, and the political realities surrounding potential approaches.

Dr. Wilson didn’t describe what his recommendation would be, although he expressed concerns about children’s health and endocrine disruptors.  He also suggested that he might endorse green chemicals.  (Green chemicals are chemicals which eliminate or reduce chemical hazards at the point of design.)  He could recommend an approach similar to that being adopted by the European Union in their REACH program (registration, evaluation, authorization of chemicals).

Chemical manufacturers have stressed that their customers are rarely end users and the green designation is not high on their list of priorities.  Customers predominantly rate quality, price and service as foremost in their selection of a supplier.  

Dr. Wilson will also be making a presentation at the joint CMTA/IEA Environmental Conference on December 13 and 14 in San Diego.  For more information or to register, click here.

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