Pat Rizzuto
July 30, 2012

Key Development: California releases a formal draft of its Safer  Consumer Products regulations, which are designed to spur manufacturers to  identify safe substitutes for chemicals of concern found in consumer  products.

Potential Impact: Companies could have to reformulate consumer  products or have sales of specific ones prohibited.

What’s Next: California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control will  hold a hearing on the proposed regulations Sept. 10; written comments on the  proposal are due Sept. 11.

By Pat Rizzuto

California released on July 27 a long-awaited formal draft of regulations  designed to spur manufacturers to identify safe substitutes for chemicals of  concern found in consumer products.

The Safer Consumer  Products regulations, required by a state law passed in 2008 commonly known  as the Green Chemistry Initiative, would:

• establish  a list of chemicals of concern expected to number approximately 1,200;

• identify  a group of up to five “priority products” that contain one or more chemicals of  concern;

• require  manufacturers that produce or sell the priority products in California to  identify potential alternatives and conduct an alternatives assessment using a  process and criteria described in the proposal; and

• require  manufacturers to produce a report detailing their findings and proposed next  steps to California’s Department of Toxic Substances and Control (DTSC).

The department would then review that analysis and determine and publish for  comment its proposed regulatory response. These could be actions such as  chemical use restrictions, sales prohibitions, or engineering or administrative  controls.

After receiving public comment on the proposed regulatory response, the  department would notify the manufacturer or manufacturers of the regulatory  response or responses and the implementation dates by which manufacturers would  have to comply with the decisions.

If the department determines that a safer alternative to the chemical of  concern is available that is “functionally acceptable and technologically and  economically feasible,” that alternative must be used within one year.

Manufacturers could be prohibited from selling priority products with  chemicals of concern within one year of the department notifying them that a  safer alternative is available.

‘Very Different Type’ of Regulation.

Michael Kirschner, president of Design Chain Associates, a California  consulting firm that tracks state, U.S., European, and other chemical  regulations affecting products, told BNA July 27 that California is proposing “a  very different type of product-targeted environmental regulation than we have  seen in the past.”

“It does not simply ban or restrict substances in products,” he said.

Rather, California’s approach would force manufacturers to assess  alternatives from an environmental performance perspective.

Typically, companies think about issues such as the function and cost of the  chemicals in their products; now they will have to consider health and  environmental concerns, he said.

“This will require more work on the manufacturer’s part than ban or  restriction regulations have, but should result in fewer ‘regrettable  substitutions’ than we’ve seen in the past,” Kirschner said. Some chemical  substitutions have been found to pose a greater health or environmental problem  than the chemicals they replaced.

The proposed regulation is significantly better than a version that was  floated in 2010 and quickly shot down, he said. California withdrew the proposal  following strong criticism from industry and environmental groups (35 CRR 43,  1/10/11).

The department’s latest proposal is far more workable and designed to be  phased in slowly so that regulators and industry can learn how to conduct needed  analyses and address concerns they may identify.

The intent is to issue a final regulation by the end of this year or early  next, Kirschner said.

Praise, Caution.

Environmental, public health, and labor organizations quickly praised this  proposal.

“We applaud Governor Brown and Director Raphael for developing smart and  well-planned rules that can protect families and our environment from  unnecessary exposure to toxic chemicals,” Sierra Club California Director  Kathryn Phillips said in a statement. “Californians should not have to wonder if  everyday products are toxic. Access to products that will not harm our families  and our environment should not be a luxury.”

Kathryn Alca′ntar , California policy director at Center for Environmental  Health, said in a statement: “This approach is most welcome and long overdue.  For decades, when health threats from a chemical in consumer products would  surface, industry would simply replace the toxic substance with new risky and  untested chemicals. With these new rules, we will finally break free of this  toxic shell game.” The center represents health, worker, consumer, physician,  and environmental advocacy organizations.

Trade associations and other industry representatives voiced a cautious  approach.

The Green Chemistry Alliance, which represents a wide range of types of  companies, said it was reviewing the regulation’s latest draft and would offer  detailed comments when that review is completed.

“It is our hope that this proposed draft of the regulations–the eighth  issued in the past four years–reflects a willingness on the part of regulators  in Gov. Brown’s administration to achieve California’s green chemistry goals  without endangering jobs or placing new burdens on consumers. “

In a press briefing on the proposal, DTSC Director Deborah Raphael said, “We  believe these regulations will be good not only for the health of our consumers  but for the health of our economy.”

When companies “make products with the environment and human health in mind,  they will have a phenomenal set of customers around the globe who want to buy  those products.”

By Pat Rizzuto

The regulations and related documents are available at

DTSC will hold a hearing on the proposed regulations Sept. 10. Written comments on the proposal should be marked Reference Number R-2011-02 and emailed  to

Technical questions should be directed to Krysia Von Burg, regulations coordinator, at (916) 324-2810, or

Original article here: