By Janie Smith
The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is seeking to provide safer alternatives to chemicals used in everyday products in order to help protect the environment and consumers. Therefore, on August 28, 2013, the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved the Safer Consumer Products Regulations. The effective date for these new regulations is October 1, 2013.
The four core elements discussed in the regulations are Candidate Chemicals, Priority Products (PP), Alternatives Analysis (AA), and Regulatory Responses. Considering the time frame, it will take years to complete the process for one PP, as each of the core elements have certain steps to be completed prior to the other. DTSC has created a complex process for initially evaluating the hazardous characteristics of over 1,200 chemicals of concern (COC). These will be known as the Candidate Chemicals. From here, the DTSC will identify the PPs, and they will be tested and evaluated for adverse effects and exposure scenarios. DTSC’s PPs will also be analyzed, and safer alternatives will be identified for the COC in the PP. The results of the safer alternatives assessment will determine the potential regulatory action for a chemical. This can include no action needed to an outright ban on the distribution and/or sale of the chemical.
All responsible entities, which include manufacturers, importers, assemblers, and retailers, must follow the regulations. Primary responsibility will lie on the manufacturer. However, if the manufacturer does not comply, responsibility will be on the importer. If neither complies, responsibility will then fall on the retailer. The regulations require responsible entities to notify DTSC when their product is listed as a PP. DTSC will post this information on its website. Manufacturers or responsible entities of a product listed as a PP must perform an AA for the product and the COCs in the product to determine how best to limit exposures to, or the level of adverse public health and environmental impacts posed by, the COCs in the product.
These guidelines apply to consumer products that have been sold, offered for sale, distributed, supplied, or manufactured in or for use in California, as a finished product or as a component in a finished product. A consumer product is, as defined in the Health and Safety Code Section 25251, ‘a product or part of a product that is used, transferred, or leased for use by a person for any reason.’ Other exemptions may also apply.
The full text of the Regulations can be found at the California DTSC website.