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Weighing in: Revised Green Chemistry Rules

Posted on Feb 7, 2012
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DTSC & Green Chemistry

California’s informal green chemistry regulations, released in October 2011, are historic in several ways. That’s what members of the CHANGE Coalition (Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy), including Worksafe, told the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) in comments, submitted December 30, 2011.

In 2008, California passed AB 1879, the pivotal legislation that initiated California’s Green Chemistry Initiative. The regulations currently under development are supposed to spell out how we will effectively remove the most pervasive and hazardous chemicals from the market, promote the use of safer alternatives, and protect the health of workers and those most at risk.

What makes these regulations historic?

Among other things, they will regulate products (rather than only individual chemicals), and they will require manufacturers to ask, “Is it necessary to include this chemical in my product?” These regulations also focus on the intrinsic hazard traits of a chemical, and do not exclusively consider the degree of risk that it will cause harm.

DTSC is expected to release the official draft regulations at the end of February 2012.

CHANGE hopes the official version will retain the precedent-setting elements of this regulation and make changes to ensure this law is effective. We are committed to working with DTSC to overcome the current limitations in the Green Chemistry Initiative, such as lack of funding sources required to implement the proposed program.

A Brief History of California's Green Chemistry Initiative
By CHANGE (Californians for a Healthy & Green Economy)

In 2008, the California legislature set out to address the problem of harmful products in our daily lives by adopting a multi-pronged Green Chemistry Initiative. As part of this initiative, Assembly Bill 1879 (authored by Mike Feuer from Santa Monica) was signed into law.

The statute directs CalEPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to develop a process for identifying harmful chemicals and products, which will include the analysis and development of safer alternatives.

DTSC is calling the draft regulations the Safer Consumer Products Regulations.

A version of these regulations was promulgated by DTSC at the end of 2010 in the final days of the Schwarzenegger Administration, but was quickly withdrawn because of sharp criticism from nearly all non-industry groups, including the bill’s author. Under new leadership, DTSC released a revised informal draft regulation on October 31st of 2011, and requested public comments to be submitted before December 30, 2011.

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