California regulators yesterday published a list of toxic chemicals found in hundreds of consumer products and will ask manufacturers to replace these chemicals with safer alternatives.
State officials say this is the first step in implementing the Safer Consumer Products initiative, a program for identifying and reformulating products that pose a threat to public health and the environment that many are calling the most comprehensive in the US.
Under the new regulations, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) will develop a set of products, called “priority products,” that contain one of about 150 toxic chemicals — such as bisphenol A, a chemical known to cause reproductive toxicity found in baby bottles, food and beverage packaging and CDs, among other products — included on the list. Regulators will ask manufacturers of priority products to evaluate the design of these products and to replace these chemicals with safer alternatives if feasible.
The Safer Consumer Products initiative goes into effect Oct. 1 and DTSC will phase it in slowly.
By April 2014, DTSC will select up to five priority products based upon such factors as the extent of their use, the potential for public exposure to the toxic ingredient, and how the products eventually are disposed. Stakeholders will have an opportunity to provide input on DTSC’s selection of specific priority products since the selection will be finalized via the regulation adoption process.
Companies that want to sell these products in California will then perform alternative assessments to determine if viable safer versions are available.
The new California regulations will affect manufacturers across the US, says Gretchen Lee Salter, senior program and policy manager at the Breast Cancer Fund. Many companies, such as Procter & Gamble and Walmart, have already announced plans to eliminate or reduce toxic chemicals in consumer products nationwide, Slater says. Conforming to the new rules governing the nation’s most populous state “means to reformulate, period.”
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