As October begins, California’s long-awaited Safer Consumer Products (SCP) program is finally launching as the first step in carrying out the state’s Green Chemistry Initiative. The regulations implementing the program go into effect today, October 1, 2013. The state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) will administer the SCP program, which identifies potentially harmful products and requires manufacturers to evaluate their safety and, if necessary, reformulate with safer alternatives or otherwise decrease risks. In addition, the SCP website has launched with some new features: an informational list of candidate chemicals and a Toxics Information Clearinghouse.
We have discussed the development of the SCP regulations over the past several months on this blog. Writing in ChemicalWatch, DTSC Director Debbie Raphael describes the regulations as taking a “preventive approach to keeping dangerous chemicals out of everyday products,” to help keep consumers safe, while providing industry with “a more predictable process for ensuring product safety” and offering a “competitive advantage for innovators who see an opportunity in the growing market for toxic-free or toxic-reduced products.” The SCP program contrasts with the piecemeal, chemical-by-chemical approach which state regulators have previously used, as well as the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which generally does not require safety testing for existing chemicals in consumer products.
The DTSC has made available an initial candidate chemicals informational list, which includes 164 substances. The agency describes this list as a “subset” of Candidate Chemicals that meet the two regulatory criteria (based on hazard traits and exposure potential) for developing the initial list of “Priority Products” which will be evaluated for safety. Those seeking revisions to the Candidate Chemicals list may submit a petition to the agency, which will post proposed revisions online for public review and comment before adopting regulations to enact them; however, the SCP regulations do not allow petitions “to remove an entire chemicals list” until October 2016. The DTSC is required to identify the first Priority Products by April 2014.
The Toxics Information Clearinghouse (TIC) is a decentralized, publicly-accessible system for information on certain chemicals. The TIC is initially using an open approach as a web-based portal to both public and private information sources on chemical hazard traits and environmental and toxicological endpoint data. The TIC was authorized separately from the SCP program by legislation passed in 2008, and represents another of the DTSC’s six policy recommendations for implementing the California Green Chemistry Initiative.