For decades, California has been a leader in environmental issues. An example is its auto emission requirements, which, when first initiated, were the strictest in the nation. However, despite current regulations, many consumer products contain toxic products such as carcinogens. These substances can be found of a myriad of products including shampoos, window cleaners, and toothpaste. Although a number of companies have vowed to increase the safety of their products, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) claims that their responses have been found lacking; thus, the agency has approved the approving the landmark Safer Consumer Products regulations, which takes effect October 1, 2013. It will require manufacturers to seek safer alternatives to the harmful chemical ingredients currently found in commonly used products.
The DTSC noted in a press release, that the new mandate is one of the first programs of its kind in the world. The regulations lay out an extensive, time-consuming review process that begins with the state establishing a list of “Candidate Chemicals.” Manufacturers can then determine if any of their “Priority Products” contain one of those substances; conduct an “Alternatives Analysis” as to what safer ingredients might be substituted; and then wait for “Regulatory Responses” to be issued. Although, at first glance, the policy appears straightforward, scientists and legal experts note that it might take years to produce actual results in the marketplace. Despite that limitation, the eventual outcome will be an improvement in the safety of consumer products. Healthcare analysts note that if manufacturers have to reformulate their products for sale in California, which is by far the most populous state in the nation, they are likely to market safer products throughout the nation as well as goods sold to other countries.
Legal analysts note that the term “consumer products” is vague; thus, making it difficult for companies to exempt their products from following the regulations. However, California’s DTSC will prioritize a product for review based on the “Candidate Chemicals” it contains (if any), and just how hazardous those chemicals can be over the life cycle of the product. This means that toxicity will be curbed not only when the product is used by the consumer but also how toxic its production process is on the environment.
California’s list of “Candidate Chemicals,” is due to be released at the end of October; thus, the savvy consumer can refer to that list and compare it to ingredients listed as ingredients on his or her favorite products. Thus, Californians can become proactive and keep toxic products out of their home.