Green chemistry program targets initial products

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, March 21, 2014 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

On Thursday, March 13th, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced three "draft priority products" – consumer goods sold in California that contain at least one of the 1,100 chemicals identified by the Green Chemistry program as potentially harmful chemicals. The Safer Consumer Products (SCP) regulations adopted on October 1, 2013 required DTSC to publish a draft initial product list by April 28th of this year. That was done last Thursday. Publication of this draft list of products imposes no new regulatory requirements on manufacturers until DTSC finalizes it by adopting regulations.

The draft identifies three products:

1. Spray Polyurethane Foam Systems containing unreacted diisocyanates – used for home and building insulation, weatherization, sealing and roofing;

2. Children’s Foam Padded Sleeping Products containing Tris (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate or TDCPP, a fire retardant and probable carcinogen that can also cause chronic health effects; and

3. Paint and Varnish Strippers, and Surface Cleaners with methylene chloride.

DTSC is placing these products on the initial Priority Products list based on two criteria in the SCP Regulations: 1) the products have the potential to expose people or the environment to one or more Candidate Chemicals, and 2) this exposure has the potential to “contribute to or cause significant or widespread adverse impacts.”

DTSC states that the SCP regulations seek to reduce toxic chemicals in consumer products, create new business opportunities in the emerging safer consumer products economy, and make it easier for consumers and businesses to identify what chemicals are present in the products they buy. Instead of banning the use of a chemical without knowing the availability or safety of alternatives, the regulations provide a process for manufacturers to answer two questions: 1) Is this chemical necessary? 2) Is there a safer alternative?

Listing a product on the initial Priority Products list is only the second step of a four-step process that could eventually lead to DTSC implementing a regulatory response. Once the initial Priority Products list is adopted in regulations, manufacturers of Priority Products will be required to notify DTSC and begin the Alternatives Analysis (AA) process. The findings of each manufacturer’s AA report will ultimately determine what regulatory response, if any, DTSC may impose. The SCP regulations provide a range of regulatory responses, ranging from product labeling to a sales prohibition.

DTSC will hold a series of three public workshops: May 7th in Sacramento, May 28th in Oakland and one workshop in Southern California at a date and location yet to be announced. Their purpose is to engage stakeholders in a dialogue on the product-chemical combinations identified on the Initial Priority Products List. They hope to begin rulemaking by the Fall of 2014 and finalize by September or October of 2015. All three products will not necessarily proceed in unison. It is unlikely that the Department would be in a position to invoke a regulatory response (which could be a ban) until mid to late 2017. A three-year workplan will be revealed by October 1 of this year.

The format for the required Alternatives Analysis has not been decided. The Green Ribbon Science Panel will convene on April 9th and 10th to address the subject. Workshops will be held on this subject throughout the year and DTSC expects to have the guidance documents for the Alternatives Analysis completed by the end of 2014.

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