Issue Date: March 24, 2014 | Web Date: March 20, 2014
California Targets Products
California is proposing that manufacturers eliminate hazardous chemicals from three types of consumer products, either by removal or reformulation with safer chemicals. The classes of products would be the first targeted under a state initiative for safer consumer products.
One class of products, announced earlier this month, encompasses surface cleaners and paint and varnish strippers containing methylene chloride. Another category is children’s foam-padded sleep aids, such as nap mats, made with the flame retardant tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCPP). The third type is spray polyurethane foam—marketed to do-it-yourselfers for insulating and filling cracks in buildings—that contains unreacted diisocyanates.
Inclusion on the list, however, “does not mean that the state has determined there is a risk of harm posed by the use of these products,” the industry group American Chemistry Council said in response to the announcement.
But methylene chloride, TDCPP, and unreacted diisocyanates, particularly toluene diisocyanates, have the potential to present significant hazards to people and the environment, says Meredith Williams, deputy director of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). People and the environment are exposed to these chemicals through use of the consumer products targeted in the proposal, she says.
Methylene chloride is acutely toxic to the nervous system. TDCPP is considered a carcinogen by California. And unreacted diisocyanates are the leading cause of occupational asthma in the U.S. and the European Union and are suspected to cause cancer in humans, California says.
Companies would face varying degrees of difficulty in reformulating their products. Manufacturers of children’s foam-padded sleeping items could have a straightforward solution: eliminating TDCPP from the products. There is no legal requirement for these items to contain flame retardants, Williams says.
A number of safer chemical alternatives to methylene chloride exist for paint and varnish strippers and cleaners, DTSC says. But finding replacements for unreacted diisocyanates in spray polyurethane foam may pose a challenge to manufacturers because the state is not aware of any alternatives for them.
- Chemical & Engineering News
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