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September 17, 2010

California Releases Proposed Regulations for Safer Consumer Products

The ACTA Group

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (CDTSC) has released its proposed regulations for safer consumer product alternatives. Under the proposed regulations, CDTSC would create a list of chemicals that it deems toxic and believes could harm people or the environment. CDTSC would prioritize products containing those chemicals based upon such factors as the volume in commerce, the extent of public exposure, and how the product is eventually disposed. Manufacturers of those products would be required to perform an “alternatives assessment” to determine if a viable safer alternative is available. CDTSC will hold a public hearing on November 1, 2010, and comments on the proposed regulations are due November 1, 2010, as well. CDTSC intends to complete the formal process to adopt the proposed regulations by the end of 2010. More information is available online.

CDTSC released a draft proposed regulation on June 23, 2010, and received comments from more than 90 stakeholders, legislators, and the public. According to CDTSC, the comments contained “widespread support for pursuing the basic principles of the Green Chemistry Initiative,” and focused on a few remaining issues. In considering comments and potential changes to the June 23, 2010, draft regulations, CDTSC states that it consulted scientists, alternative assessment professionals, and life cycle analyses practitioners in academia, industry, and private consulting firms. The proposed regulations, which CDTSC has submitted to California’s Office of Administrative Law, include changes made as a result of that consultation. According to CDTSC, the changes:

  • Address criticism that the initial scope of chemicals list was too narrow. CDTSC has “significantly broadened” the proposed scope by expanding the lists of authoritative bodies that could be consulted for establishing the chemicals of priority list;
  • Respond to concerns that the previous draft regulation’s lack of deadlines could cause unintended delays. Proposed deadlines are now included for both chemicals and products lists along with specific timelines for various regulatory steps;
  • Additionally, CDTSC has added a tiered process for alternative assessments intended to reduce the time for identifying safer alternatives and provide more specific performance targets to move manufacturers through the regulatory process;
  • Address comments regarding the complexity of the process. CDTSC has simplified the process and clarified what information would be required and how it would be submitted; and
  • Respond to requests to have public comments on regulatory actions. CDTSC now proposes to allow public comment on any regulatory responses that are triggered by a CDTSC ruling or determination.

The proposed regulations are intended to: (1) establish a process to identify and prioritize those chemicals or chemical ingredients in consumer products that may be considered to be a chemical of concern; (2) establish a process for evaluating chemicals of concern in consumer products, and their potential alternatives, to determine how best to limit exposure or to reduce the level of hazard posed by priority chemicals; and (3) specify the range of regulatory responses that CDTSC may take following the completion of the alternatives analysis.

The proposed regulations include the following timelines:

  1. The proposed initial list of Chemicals under Consideration shall be issued for public review and comment no later than June 1, 2011;
  2. The final initial list of Chemicals under Consideration shall be issued no later than March 1, 2012;
  3. The proposed initial list of Priority Chemicals shall be issued for public review and comment no later than July 1, 2012;
  4. The proposed initial list of Products under Consideration shall be issued for public review and comment no later than March 1, 2013;
  5. The proposed initial list of Priority Products shall be issued for public review and comment no later than September 1, 2013; and
  6. The final initial list of Priority Products shall be issued no later than December 1, 2013.

In preparing the initial list of Priority Chemicals, the proposed regulations state that CDTSC shall consider only chemicals that are one or more of the following:

  1. Chemicals that are carcinogens or reproductive toxins, or both;
  2. Chemicals that are listed as having mutagenic properties in the European Union Category 1A or 1B under Annex VI, part 3 of the Regulation; or
  3. Chemicals that have been determined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to be persistent bioaccumulative toxic chemicals.