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California issues proposed “safer consumer products” regulations (DTSC)

These new regulations requiring consumer product designers, manufacturers and importers in California to carry out detailed studies of whether alternatives exist to products containing chemicals of concern, could become law by year’s end following the publication of the proposed regulations on 27 July by the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).There are some significant changes compared to the draft regulations issued last autumn:

  • The “chemicals of concern” list is now about 1,200 chemicals picked from existing lists including Environment Canada’s priority list – a concern to us pine chemical producers. It appears that DTSC can add other chemicals at will.
  • Numerical “de minimus levels” to trigger the need for an alternatives analysis has been replaced by an “alternatives analysis threshold”. This will be determined on a case-by-case basis for each chemical of concern in a “priority product.” Thus industry will not be able to plan.
  • The distinction between an “assembled” and a “formulated product” has been removed.
  • The term “a technically and economically feasible alternative” eliminates cost assessments for which reliable data is not available.
  • Occupational health impacts are now included in definitions of “adverse health impacts” and “sensitive subpopulations.”
  • A chemical’s ability to degrade or metabolise into another chemical has been incorporated into the regulations (rosin into oxidized rosin?).
  • Trade secret protection cannot be claimed for hazard trait information submissions.

The proposed regulations state that the first list of priority products, for which the DTSC will issue a work plan by January 2014, will contain no more than five product-chemical combinations. Priority products can be listed as such only if they contain chemicals that meet certain hazard traits and exposure criteria. Obviously these regulations should be of important to companies that sell products that end up in California. 

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