Is California Protecting Consumers From Toxic Chemicals in Products?

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – Today, in a joint hearing, the Assembly Environmental Safety & Toxic Materials Committee, chaired by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), along with the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, chaired by Senator Ben Allen (D- Santa Monica), will ask the State Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and other experts to evaluate how well the state’s Green Chemistry Program has done to regulate consumer products exposing people to known hazardous chemicals.

Tens of thousands of chemicals are in commerce today – many of which we come into contact with on a daily basis. Chemicals are used to make common household and workplace products such as cosmetics, plastics, cleaning products, and electronics. Some chemicals are linked to cancer, birth defects, learning difficulties, reduced fertility, high blood pressure, and other adverse health conditions. Most chemicals in consumer products remain unregulated, and even unknown to chemical regulators and the public.

In 2008, the Legislature enacted two laws (AB 1879, Feuer and SB 509, Simitian) that intended to reduce toxic chemicals, promote safer chemistry in products, and provide more information to the public on toxic chemicals in products.  Those laws, known as California’s Green Chemistry program, mandated DTSC to establish a regulatory process to identify and prioritize chemicals of concern in consumer products, analyze alternatives to existing hazardous chemicals, and determine a regulatory response.

At the hearing, the two policy committees will hear from DTSC, public health experts, the chemical industry, consumer product manufacturers, and environmental protection advocates. The purpose of the joint hearing is to review DTSC’s efforts and ask: have we accomplished the legislative intent of the Green Chemistry laws? Are we protecting consumers from toxic chemicals? Is there anything that could be done to ensure greater success of the program?

“California’s Green Chemistry Program provides state regulators with the authority they need to use deliberative science to protect the public from chemical exposure from products in their houses and workplaces,” said Assemblymember Quirk. “We want to know whether DTSC has fulfilled the intent of the law, how well we’re doing at protecting people from dangerous chemicals, and how we can do better.”