California 'Safer Consumer Product Alternatives' Regulation Continues Trend Towards Greater Chemical Scrutiny
10:00 AM MST | November 9, 2010 | By RICHARD HUBNER
Written by Richard P. Hubner, president of The Sapphire Group (Bethesda, MD) and his colleagues. The Sapphire Group is a risk management consulting firm.California is known for setting trends in this country related to music and entertainment. But it also serves as a bellwether for environmental regulation. This pattern may be continuing with the Safer Consumer Product Alternatives (SCPA) regulation, a measure under development by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) as part of the state’s Green Chemistry Initiative.
The SCPA, which does not require approval by the legislature, will direct state regulators to establish a priority list of chemicals of concern, and a corresponding list of products containing those chemicals. Businesses selling into the state—including manufacturers, distributors, retailers and licensees—will need to:
Provide regulators with the name and contact info for all participants in the product’s supply chain;
Conduct a life-cycle analysis of the product’s human health and environmental impacts, considering raw materials sourcing, manufacturing, transportation and disposal/recycling;
Prepare a similar analysis of substitute chemicals, along with a proposal to redesign the product to reduce concentrations of chemicals of concern in favor of safer alternatives.
The process of establishing the priority chemicals and priority products list will consume the next three years, and compliance obligations under the regulation will commence in December 2013. A parallel proposal by Cal/EPA’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) would require that data developed under these assessments be made available to consumers under the state’s Proposition 65 law. Currently, only cancer and developmental/ reproductive effects must be reported under Prop 65.
Taken together with activity under CPSIA, TSCA and REACH, the SCPA embodies a demand by decision-makers for a more comprehensive suite of data on the chemical content of products, exposures, and the potential for human and environmental harm as a condition of market access. The hazard traits that must be evaluated and under the draft law are quite extensive, and include neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, epigenetic toxicity, ototoxicity and phtotoxicity.
Readers may submit comments to the agency before the expiration of the comment period on November 1, 2010.