California’s Department of Toxic Substances (DTSC) is working toward state governor Jerry Brown’s commitment to enhanced environmental protection by proposing new regulations designed to improve consumer health and safety. In July the agency, which is responsible for regulating toxic substances, released its proposed Safer Consumer Products Regulation. The proposed guidelines require manufacturers to seek alternative, green ingredients in widely used household products. They fall under the California Green Chemistry Initiative (CGCI), a 2008 initiative to reduce public and environmental exposure to toxins through improved knowledge and regulation of chemicals.
In a news release, DTSC director Debbie Raphael, said, “People don’t choose to buy items that could harm their family or friends. Even though a significant number of manufacturers are already finding fewer toxic ingredients to use in their products, safer options for consumers are still limited.”
The proposed regulation will use a world-recognized list of “chemicals of concern” as identified by scientific and government agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, to create a process by which manufacturers that use one of the listed chemicals must examine the viability of safer ingredients. If an alternative cannot be found, the DTSC will outline steps the manufacturer must take to ensure the product is safely used, disposed of, and ultimately, phased out.
The Safer Consumer Product Regulation has begun a 45-day comment period, and several groups including the Green Chemistry Alliance, the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Manufacturers and Technology Association are reviewing the guidelines.
The DTSC and the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) recently announced that the California Attorney General’s Office filed a complaint against 16 businesses that were allegedly supplying retailers or selling jewelry containing high levels of lead to California consumers. According to the DTSC a total of 343 tainted jewelry items, some imported from Asia, were discovered as part of the agency’s efforts to protect consumers from unnecessary toxic chemicals in everyday products. Much of the jewelry contained cadmium, a known carcinogen. The DTSC also found toxic ingredients in nail-care products.