The California Department of Toxic Substances Control announced recently it is taking steps to limit the industrial and commercial use of "chemicals of concern" with its proposed Safer Consumer Products Regulation.
The proposal requires manufacturers to seek alternative ingredients in widely-used products.
“People don’t choose to buy items that could harm their family or friends,” said Debbie Raphael, Director of DTSC. “Even though a significant number of manufacturers are already finding fewer toxic ingredients to use in their products, safer options for consumers are often still limited.”
Using a world-wide recognized list of “chemicals of concern” the regulation would create a process by which manufacturers who are using one of those listed chemicals must identify and examine the viability of safer ingredients. If an alternative is not feasible, DTSC will identify steps the manufacturer must take to ensure the product is safely used, disposed of, or phased out. The regulation also provides consumers with enhanced information about product ingredients.
The regulation could greatly affect nail salons and jewelry manufacturers and processors. Owners of local salons and jewelry stores were either unable or refused to comment on the regulation for the record.
In DTSC’s recent investigations of nail polish and jewelry, it discovered that highly toxic ingredients still end up in products even when they are advertised as toxic free.
“We see this as a two-for-one initiative,” said Raphael. “Public health and the environment benefits by lessening our use of toxic chemicals, and California companies get a significant boost into markets that are rapidly expanding. This regulation will stimulate growth in those markets and move us toward a higher level of environmental protection.”
The DTSC also opens a 45-day period in which it is seeking comments from the public, said Raphael.
“This is a great example of how policymakers, businesses, government agencies, science, academia, and consumer advocates can work collaboratively to create an orderly transition to safer materials and products which is a win for business, consumers, communities and future generations,” said Roger McFadden, Vice President and Senior Scientist for Staples.
“Innovation, change and investment have allowed my company to thrive,” said Aaron Leventhal, CEO of Hero Arts, a leading designer and manufacturer of product for the papercraft market, with locations in Oakland and Richmond. “This regulation is a clear way government can act to help business. It clarifies an otherwise turbulent landscape and creates necessary rules businesses can rely on, which reduces market risk and thereby stimulates investment, job creation and innovation.”
“We care about the health of our patients and our communities,” said Kathy Gerwig, Kaiser Permanente’s Vice President, Employee Safety, Health and Wellness and Environmental Stewardship Officer. “Our experience has been that environmental sustainability is good for business, and we see DTSC’s regulations as moving in the right direction, in promoting a healthy economy, healthy environment and healthy people.”
“For too long, toxic chemicals have been used in everyday consumer products with no accountability for their hazards to public and environmental health,” said Gretchen Lee Salter of Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy (CHANGE) and the Breast Cancer Fund. “This is the kind of groundbreaking program that communities have been demanding for decades, one that mandates that safer alternatives be identified to prevent harmful exposures to consumers, workers, and communities. This regulation is an important step towards a greener economy, healthier people, and a less toxic environment in California, and we will be carefully following its development to ensure that it reaches its potential.”