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California Pushes For Safer Chemicals In Consumer Products

Regulation: State may require consumer product makers to seek alternatives to chemical ingredients of questioned safety

by Cheryl Hogue
August 2, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 32

Manufacturers would have to seek “safer” alternatives to some 1,200 chemicals used in consumer products under a regulation a California agency proposed in late July.

Chemicals covered by the proposal appear on lists compiled by regulatory agencies in North America and the European Union. They include substances classified as known or reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens in the U.S. National Toxicology Program’s “Report on Carcinogens” and those deemed as persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic by Environment Canada or the Washington State Department of Ecology.

The proposal is designed to stimulate the market for safer chemicals and to boost environmental protection, says Deborah O. Raphael, director of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

It would require a certified assessor to examine alternative ingredients that pose less risk to health or the environment than the chemicals targeted in the proposal, says Jim Marxen, a DTSC spokesman. The assessments would scrutinize alternatives’ cost, performance, and accessibility.

After a company provides an assessment of alternatives to DTSC, the agency and the company would discuss the options for action, including substitution with a safer substance, Marxen tells C&EN. If substitution isn’t feasible, the agency may require the manufacturer to ensure the product is safely used, disposed of, or phased out.

The Green Chemistry Alliance, a broad California industry group that includes chemical manufacturers, says it is studying the proposal.


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