Monday, March 17, 2014

California identifies 3 products of concern

In mid-March 2014, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced three draft "priority products" - consumer goods sold in California that each contain at least one toxic chemical.  The purpose of this announcement is to call attention to certain products. DTSC doesn't say this, but it's pretty well known that calling attention to products in this way will incite public pressure on companies to change the way products with carcinogens are manufactured.

The Safer Consumer Products (SCP) regulations took effect Oct. 1, 2013.

DTSC selected these priority products because they contain at least one of more than 1,100 toxic chemicals identified as having potential to cause significant harm. Also, these products are widely used and thus represent significant potential for excessive public exposure to chemicals in question.

Let's get specific. The three products are:
  1. Children's foam padded sleeping products containing TDCPP (chlorinated Tris), a flame retardant and carcinogen under California's Proposition 65 law. Children and infants are especially vulnerable to its carcinogenic and other chronic health effects
  2. Spray Polyurethane foam systems containing unreacted diisocyanates. SPF systems are used for home and building insulation, weatherization, sealing and roofing. Diisocyanates can irritate the respiratory tract, cause asthma and cancer and are known skin irritants. They are a leading cause of occupational asthma
  3. Paint stripper containing Methylene Chloride. Methylene chloride is an acute neurotoxin and is carcinogenic. Since 2000, multiple worker deaths have occurred as a result of exposure to stripping agents containing methylene chloride
DTSC is not banning these products. Instead, DTSC says it is (quote) "starting a process."

That's a pleasant Californian way of saying, "We'll publicly bring you down if you don't get the carcinogen out of this product, moron!"

I mean, in the Boston area we're a little more direct about some things (not about everything, just some things).

Process of elimination 

The first step in this "process" will be to gain further understanding about the use, manufacture, and sale of listed products. Further understanding will be sought on emerging science through multiple public workshops and extensive feedback from stakeholders. Information gathered will be used to make a final determination about listing the products. The Priority Products won't be final until a rulemaking process is complete, adopting regulations to list the products. This process could take up to a year. After that, manufacturers will notify DTSC if they make a Priority Product. Manufacturers who want to sell them in California will conduct an "Alternatives Analysis" to determine if feasible safer ingredients are available.

A presentation from the SCP on these Priority Products will be included at DTSC's quarterly meeting that will be held on Saint Patrick's Day, today, Monday, March 17 at 9 a.m. in Byron Sher Auditorium in the California EPA building, 1001 I St., Sacramento. The public can learn more about the selection of the priority products.

For more information, visit