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California’s Green Chemistry Initiative: Reaction to Prevention

Posted by Megan Cronin, Toxics Intern on April 14, 2014

California, with the help of our PSR-LA chapter, has taken key steps to get tougher on toxics.

In 2008 Governor Brown signed a law that required the state to create a Safe Consumer Products Program with a goal of preventing the proliferation of toxic chemicals. This was to replace the current system, which mainly served to mitigate the consequences of toxics exposure after people had already been harmed.

Greening the chemical industry is difficult, but CA seems to have the best system yet. The Safe Consumer Products Program, effective October 1, 2013, has chosen three products to study and make safer. According to the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) representative, “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 the program are used.” They hope that the small scope of the program will produce a ripple effect in the industry.

The three products are: 1) Children’s foam-padded sleeping products containing TDCPP; 2) Spray polyurethane foam system containing unreacted di-isocyanates; and 3) Paint stripper containing Methylene Chloride. All of the aforementioned chemicals are known carcinogens and also cause a myriad of chronic health conditions.

DTSC officials hope to make the list of priority chemicals final within the year before they begin the Alternative Analysis process.

While it is unlikely that chemical companies will make changes to their products in the short term, the program has promise to work those changes over time. Hopefully this will lead to greater protections to CA workers and consumers.  However the jury is still out on how long that will take and how far-reaching those improvements will be.

Contact your local PSR chapter to see how you can take action to push for protection from toxic chemicals in your home state.

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