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Safer Products Now: La Opinión, SF Chronicle

Posted on Oct 9, 2012
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Editorials-scpThese recent editorials highlight the need for a Safer Consumer Products program to move forward now! Read from La Opinión, "Una regulación importante" (translated below into English by CHANGE, "An Important Regulation") and "Don't let industry weaken regulations" from the San Francisco Chronicle.

An Important Regulation

It’s time the law that protects consumers is put to use.

La Opinión | October 9, 2012

Four years ago, California legislature passed a law protecting consumers by helping them avoid the use of common objects that are dangerous for their health. And it is time for the law to be implemented.

The California Green Chemistry Initiative (AB1879) establishes a process to evaluate chemicals that are potentially dangerous, obtain alternatives to replace/reformulate them and find a way to limit or reduce exposure to  toxic chemicals.

There are 1,200 chemicals that are “chemicals of concern” according to the Department Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

The DTSC will designate “priority products”. The producers of these products are the ones who will hold the basic scientific evaluations to find substitutes for dangerous chemicals. In the case that there is no replacement, there are other options spanning from expanding distribution consumer information to prohibiting the product itself.

The DTSC has decided to include only five products in  the “priority product” category for now, which demonstrates moderation in the agency’s strategy.

The law that lays the foundation for the Safer Consumer Products Program establishes the beginning of finding and replacing chemicals that are recognized as hazardous. This is a measure that has already been accepted by industry giants such as Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Clorox and Hewlett-Packard, among others.

Nevertheless, there is a great opposition in the industry, and by some legislators, who affirm that the new regulation is too expensive for the private sector and will affect the fragile state economy. In the meantime, they want to postpone the implementation of the measure.

We believe that this law is important for the health of consumers and their rights to purchase products that are non-hazardous. On the other hand, the chemicals that were once indispensable may not be so today. The implementation of this law will give  industry an incentive to think about substituting ingredients that benefit us all.

Una regulación importante

Es hora de instrumentar esta ley que protege a los consumidores

La Opinión | 10/09/2012

Hace cuatro años, la legislatura de California aprobó una ley de protección al consumidor para evitar el daño que causan numerosos productos perjudiciales a la salud que se encuentran en objetos de uso común. Ya es hora de que se comience a implementar.

La Iniciativa de Químicos Verdes de California (AB1879) establece un proceso para evaluar los químicos que son potencialmente dañinos, obtener alternativas para reemplazarlos en su formulación y halla una manera para limitar o reducir la exposición al químico peligroso.

Se conocen en la actualidad 1,200 llamados "químicos que preocupan", entre ellos el Departamento para el Control de Sustancias Tóxicas

(DTSC) designará "productos prioritarios". Los fabricantes de estos productos son los que tendrán las evaluaciones científicas básicamente para hallar un reemplazo al químico peligroso. De no hallarlo, se plantean opciones que van desde ampliar la información al consumidor hasta la prohibición del producto.

El DTSC ha decidido incluir ahora solamente cinco productos en la categoría "productos prioritarios" lo que muestra mesura en la estrategia de la agencia.

La ley que da pie al programa de Productos Seguros para el Consumidor establece el principio de buscar y reemplazar químicos que son reconocidos como perjudiciales. Este es un enfoque que ya ha sido aceptado por gigantes de la industria como Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Clorox y Hewlett- Packard , entre otros.

Sin embargo, hay una gran oposición de la industria, y de algunos legisladores, quienes afirman que la nueva regulación es muy cara para el sector privado y que perjudicará a la frágil economía estatal . Por lo tanto, ellos desean que se posponga la implementación.

Creemos que esta es una ley importante para la salud del consumidor y su derecho a adquirir productos que no sean perjudiciales. Por otro lado, los químicos que un día fueron imprescindibles hoy pueden no serlo. La implementación de esta ley le dará a la industria el incentivo para pensar en reemplazos de ingredientes que beneficien a todos.

Don't let industry weaken regulations

SF Chronicle | September 30, 2012

After years of wrangling, state legislators have stitched together an agreement to protect consumers from dangerous chemicals in the products they buy.

Under a state law passed in 2008, regulations were supposed to be beefed up by January 2011. Now, despite bipartisan support from lawmakers, the pact is in danger of unraveling at the hands of the powerful chemical industry, which is lobbying every state official it can corner. To dilute this legal protection would be a disservice to California consumers.

That law required the state to make a list of "chemicals of concern," identify possible alternatives and regulate the substances to reduce or eliminate public exposure to them.

The state identified 1,200 potentially toxic chemicals out of the 100,000 substances registered for use in consumer products. The bad stuff includes lead in jewelry (overexposure can result in severe damage to the blood-forming, nervous, urinary and reproductive systems), Bisphenol A in cans (the chemical has been banned from baby bottles because of possible hazards to fetuses, infants, and young children), phthalates in toys and water pipes (they're chemicals used to soften plastics and have been linked to birth defects), and formaldehyde in baby shampoo (a possible cause of skin sensitivity and cancer).

The public has until Oct. 11 to comment on the stronger rules. Then it's up to the state Department of Toxic Substances Control to finish writing the regulations and enact them. The agency needs to hear, emphatically, that these chemicals must be regulated and removed, and the chemical industry can't be allowed to stand in the way of public health.