Manufacturers would have to seek “safer” alternatives to some 1,200 chemicals used in consumer products under a regulation a California state agency proposed in late July.
Chemicals covered by the proposed regulation appear on lists compiled by regulatory agencies in North America and the European Union. For example, it includes 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 chemicals that pose less risk to health or the environment than the chemicals targeted in the proposal, explains Jim Marxen, a spokesman for DTSC. The assessments would scrutinize cost, performance, and accessibility of those alternatives.
After a company provides an assessment of alternatives to DTSC, the agency and the company will discuss the options for action, including substitution with a safer substance, Marxen tells C&EN. If such substitution isn’t feasible, the agency may require the manufacturer to ensure the product is used or disposed of safely or phased out.
Environmental and health activists and some businesses endorse the proposal. Meanwhile, the Green Chemistry Alliance, a broad California industry group that includes chemical manufacturers, says it is studying the proposal.
Marxen says activists and industry encouraged DTSC not to “reinvent the wheel” for the proposal and instead rely on widely used, scientifically credible lists assembled by other regulatory agencies.
DTSC will accept comments on the proposal through mid-September, in advance of finalizing the regulation.