On Thursday, California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) challenged manufacturers to make their products safer and dramatically change the way consumers are protected from potential toxic harm.
As a key step in its Safer Consumer Products regulations, DTSC is announcing three draft “priority products” — consumer goods sold in California that each contain at least one toxic chemical — and asking manufacturers to find a safer alternative.
The three products are:
- Children’s foam padded sleeping products and furniture containing TDCPP (chlorinated TRIS), a flame retardant and probable carcinogen that can also cause chronic health effects.
- Spray Polyurethane foam systems containing unreacted di-isocyanates (dg). SPF systems are used for home and building insulation, weatherization, sealing and roofing. Di-isocyanates can irritate the respiratory tract, cause asthma and cancer and are known skin irritants.
- Paint stripper containing Methylene Chloride, a known carcinogen and neurotoxin.
DTSC selected these priority products because they contain at least one of more than 1,100 toxic chemicals that the Department identified as having the potential to cause significant harm to people or the environment. The products also are widely used and create the potential for significant public exposure to these chemicals.
The Department said it is not banning these products — it is starting a process, requiring manufacturers who want to sell them in California to conduct an “Alternatives Analysis” to determine if feasible safer ingredients are available. The final list of Priority Products won’t be official until a rule-making process is complete, which could take up to a year. After that, manufacturers will begin the Alternative Analysis process.
“People want safer consumer products, and this innovative program establishes a process by which government and businesses can work together to meet this public demand," said Matt Rodriquez, California Secretary for Environmental Protection. "Many companies already understand that looking for product alternatives to reduce consumer risk is a sound business practice. The eyes of the world will be watching us as we progress in this new, collective effort to protect public health and preserve our environment."
DTSC’s landmark Safer Consumer Products regulations, which took effect Oct.1, 2013, represent a significant shift toward a more protective, economically viable approach to how California ensures the safety of consumer products. The regulations provide an opportunity for innovative industries to capitalize on the growing consumer demand for products that are safer and better for the environment.
“The impact of this initiative will be significant,” said DTSC Director Debbie Raphael. “Not only is DTSC asking that these three products be made safer, it is signaling to manufacturers to examine their products and find safer alternative ingredients whenever any of the more than 1,100 chemicals identified by this program are used.”
“This approach will also protect California workers, who can be exposed to high levels of hazardous chemicals in paint stripping and insulating products, especially when the products are used in confined spaces," said Christine Baker, Director of California's Department of Industrial Relations, which oversees the state's worker safety program, Cal/OSHA. "DTSC's new regulations will motivate investment in safer alternatives; we see that as a smart strategy to prevent on-the-job injuries and illnesses."
For more information, including video, visit the DTSC website.
The public can learn more about the selection of the priority products at DTSC’s quarterly meeting March 17 at 9 am in Byron Sher Auditorium in the Cal EPA building, 1001 I St., Sacramento, Calif.
Earlier this month, Walmart informed dozens of product manufacturers throughout its supply chain that it is now implementing its new Policy on Sustainable Chemistry in Consumables, announced late last year. The policy to phase out "priority chemicals" that can affect human health and/or the environment covers consumer products such as health and beauty aids, pet supplies, cosmetics and skincare, baby care products and household laundry and cleaning products.