California Issues New Green Chemistry Requirements for Consumer Products

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In a highly anticipated new development, California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (“DTSC”) submitted its Green Chemistry Proposed Regulation for Safer Consumer Products to the state Office of Administrative Law today, triggering the 45-day public comment and formal rulemaking process for the regulations. DTSC must adopt final regulations by January 1, 2011. The Green Chemistry regulation is DTSC’s first formal rulemaking process to implement Assembly Bill 1879 and Senate Bill 509 in 2008, which together are known as the Green Chemistry Initiative. The proposed regulations further refine the draft circulated earlier this year and reflect DTSC’s landmark approach to reducing or removing potentially toxic chemicals from a wide variety of consumer products.

DTSC’s regulations flesh out a process for identifying and prioritizing chemicals in consumer products that that may be subject to additional restrictions, and for conducting an alternatives analysis that will enable California regulators to determine the permissible use of those chemicals in products already in the market as well as in consumer products on the drawing board. The process consists of three main parts: Prioritization, Alternatives Assessments, and Regulatory Response. For products already on the market, this will require examining whether safer alternatives exist and, potentially, reformulating the product or having it banned entirely. For new products, this will mean looking at potential impacts and addressing them before the product is manufactured.

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