DTSC Launches Safer Consumer Products Program (October 2013)

The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) launched the Safer Consumer Products program on October 1, 2013, which is part of California’s Green Chemistry Initiative. Under the SCP program, DTSC will develop a set of “priority products” that contain one or more of approximately 150 “chemicals of concern.” Manufacturers of priority products will need to self-report the presence of the chemicals of concern in their products. If a company decides to continue selling in California, they will be required to evaluate their product for alternative ingredients and submit conclusions to DTSC in a public document called an “alternatives analysis.”

While the SCP program goes into effect on October 1, 2013, DTSC plans to phase it in slowly. By April 2014, DTSC will select up to five priority products based on factors such as likelihood of public exposure to the toxic ingredient, extent of product use and disposal practices. Stakeholders will have an opportunity to provide comment on DTSC’s selection of specific priority products as the selection process will mimic the regulation adoption process.

The Safer Consumer Products regulations implements AB 1879, one of the California Green Chemistry Initiative laws that establishes the process for identifying and prioritizing chemicals of concern (COCs) in consumer products. The law also requires DTSC to create a process for evaluating safer alternatives to chemicals of concern in consumer products; additionally, DTSC must impose a regulatory response based on the outcome of the alternatives analysis. The regulatory response can range from no action, to new product labeling, use restriction and sales prohibition.

The regulations provide for a four-step process to identify safer consumer product alternatives:

    ▲ Chemicals – The regulations establish an immediate list of “candidate chemicals” (approximately 1,200) based on the work already done by other authoritative organizations. The regulations also impose a process for DTSC to identify additional chemicals as “candidate chemicals” (CCs).

    ▲ Products – The regulations require DTSC to evaluate and prioritize product/candidate chemical combinations to develop a list of “priority products” for which“alternatives analyses” must be conducted. A “candidate chemical” that is the basis for a product being listed as a priority product is designated as a “chemical of concern” (COC).

    ▲ Alternatives Analysis – The regulations require manufacturers, importers, assemblers and retailers to notify DTSC when their product is listed as a “priority product.” DTSC will post this information on its website. Manufacturers of a product listed as a “priority product” must perform an “alternatives analysis” (AA) for the product and the COCs in the product to determine how best to limit exposures to the COCs in the product.

    ▲ Regulatory Responses – The regulations require DTSC to identify and require implementation of regulatory responses designed to protect public health and/or the environment, and maximize the use of acceptable and feasible alternatives of least concern. DTSC may require regulatory responses for a “priority product,” or for an alternative product selected to replace the “priority product.”

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