Last summer I learned about the state of California’s efforts to create more healthful buildings and working conditions. In 2008, they passed the California Green Chemistry Initiative with the intent of reducing state residents’ exposure to toxic chemicals.
California leads the U.S. in new directions all the time, and green chemistry could be another. Unfortunately, though, they were slow out of the gate and their initial attempts to implement the law don’t instill confidence.
The Safer Consumer Products Program
I’ll distill this issue down as much as I can because it’s easy to get confused if you dive in and try to figure it all out. First, the Green Chemistry Initiative, also called the Green Chemistry Law, contains six recommendations. (Karl Palmer,1 an administrator at the California Department of Toxic Substances Control who’s pictured in the photo at right, specified the California Assembly bill numbers as AB 1879/SB 509.)
The Safer Consumer Products Program stems from recommendation number 5: “Accelerate the quest for safer products.”
Here’s how it works.
The state puts together a list of “candidate chemicals.” The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) website says there are about 1,200 chemicals on the list.
The DTSC identifies products that use those chemicals and singles out any that they believe should be scrutinized further. These are called Priority Products. In March 2014, after six years of trying to implement Green Chemistry Initiative recommendation #5, they finally announced the first three Priority Products:
The DTSC writes a Priority Product Profile for each one, giving the scientific reasoning behind its inclusion on the list.
The “responsible entities” for a Priority Product must then do an Alternatives Analysis to see what they might be able to do to make their product safer.
California then decides what regulations…