California’s Safer Consumer Product Regulations Take Effect with Considerable Uncertainty About How They Will Be Carried Out

News & Events

November 7, 2013

As of October 1, California’s ambitious Safer Consumer Products regulations are in effect. Companies whose products are designated by the State as “priority products” will be required to conduct alternatives assessments to explore possible substitute product formulations. The designation will be made based on the presence of a chemical of concern in the product as well as other criteria, such as market size and use categories. The assessments will have to address a wide range of potential effects (e.g., human health, ecological, and other environmental impacts) across the whole product lifecycle. Although it was expected that regulated parties would file lawsuits challenging the regulations, none have been filed to date. On October 18, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) published an “Initial Candidate Chemicals List” of 155 chemicals, indicating the focus of the first priority product designations; the list is a subset of the 1,200 Candidate Chemicals identified previously. The first set of priority products containing these chemicals (3 to 5 in number) is expected to be proposed in early 2014 with additional products to follow.

DTSC has not published the product categories, making it unclear how broadly they will be drawn and what parties will be affected (i.e., children’s pajamas versus children’s clothes). The regulations also lack detail regarding how the State will want companies to perform the analyses and make decisions about particular alternatives. However, DTSC scientists have been actively participating in the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2) alternatives assessment guidance development project, and drafts of the IC2 guidance (currently available) may provide an indication of the direction DTSC will be moving. In a preemptive move, a consortium of trade groups last week sent a letter to DTSC director Debbie Raphael questioning various provisions in the draft IC2 guidance and requesting the State provide more flexibility in carrying out alternatives assessments. State officials indicate that guidance on how to conduct the alternatives assessments can be expected in early 2014.

Click for a link to a recent presentation about Green Chemistry regulations in California and other states by Gradient’s Dr. Tom Lewandowski.

Click for a link to the draft IC2 AA guidance.