Department of Toxic Substances Control Takes a Step in the Wrong Direction

Last Thursday, environmentalists and public health advocates castigated the Schwarzenegger administration for weakening California’s Green Chemistry Initiative. The program, signed into law in 2008, directs the state Department of Toxic Substances Control to identify and regulate the use of toxic chemicals in consumer products like makeup and cleaners. The program was initially lauded by public advocates, but a recent revision to proposed regulations has led some advocates to warn that they will sue if the revised regulations are adopted.

Members of the coalition against the revision cite concerns about exemptions for microconcentrations of known toxins like bisphenol A and lead, and the limited scope of the new regulations, which propose to only evaluate household cleaners, personal care products, and products for children. Ansje Miller, the campaign director for Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy, also suggested that the revisions would make it easier for manufacturers to replace known toxins with chemicals whose safety has not been established.

In the next few weeks, the Department of Toxic Substances Control will evaluate the comments they have received and decide whether further review is necessary. If the Department determines that the revised regulations are sound, the regulations will be sent to the Office of Administrative Law for final review, and may be adopted as early as January.