Comments on Safer Consumer Products
Today, CHANGE is pleased to submit our full comments on DTSC’s draft regulations to implement a Safer Consumer Products program under the authority of AB 1879. After diligently participating in this process over the last four years, we're calling for California's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and Governor Brown to move this program forward. When these draft regulations were released in July 2012, CHANGE responded with hopeful support for a solution-oriented program (see July 27 media statement). Recent editorials by the San Francisco Chronicle and La Opinión reinforce some of the key reasons the public deserves this program as as step closer to safer products, healthier people and environment, and a robust economy.
This program represents many “firsts”. This is the first time an agency has attempted to regulate chemicals, and the products that contain them, by focusing on potential harm based on chemical properties rather than relying on faulty risk assessment models. This also is the first time chemical regulations are attempting to incorporate cumulative exposures, which are a key public health concern and a long-standing issue for environmental justice communities. Finally, this is the first time manufacturers of consumer products will be required to formally answer the question, “Is it necessary to use this hazardous chemical in my product?”
This approach constitutes a long-overdue paradigm shift in how society should manage chemicals. It calls for continuous movement towards a green economy, in which toxic chemicals can be replaced with non-toxic alternatives. Such an approach focuses on public, occupational, and environmental health, maintaining the essential concept of primary prevention.
There are two key components of the draft proposal that are essential in our view and must be kept intact:
- A large Chemicals of Concern (CoC) list
- Science-based, case-by-case alternative analysis threshold levels
Two critical aspects to the program that require improvement are:
- The high bar for causation required before taking any action
- The lack of transparency and oversight in Alternative Assessment reports
Within our 30 pages of comments submitted, we're also demanding that “economic impacts” capture all appropriate costs, including costs to public health, occupational health, and the environment. In a Chemical Watch article published today (subscription only), CHANGE advocates commented on a seriously flawed economic analysis released by the California Chamber of Commerce earlier this week. Davis Baltz, Precautionary Principle Project director of Commonweal was quoted in the article commenting, "As usual, externalized costs remain outside the frame of reference for industries with a stake in maintaining their market share above all other concern.” The article also includes Kathryn Alcantar, CHANGE's Campaign Director observing, “While industry asks for yet another delay, children and families are being exposed to chemicals and the public is bearing the health costs."
Read CHANGE's full analysis of the Safer Consumer Products program in our comment letter submitted to DTSC (PDF). It's time to bring this program into the real world and get safer products underway!