California Releases Draft List of First Priority Products Under Safety Rules

Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...

By Carolyn Whetzel  

March 13 --Children's foam sleeping mats, spray-foam insulation systems and paint strippers containing one or more chemicals identified as potentially harmful to the public and environment made the first draft of “priority products’’ released under California's Safer Consumer Products Regulations.

The polyurethane foam mats used in a variety of infant and children's products contain the fire retardant tris (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate, known as TDCPP, the Department of Toxic Substances Control said March 13 at a news conference in Sacramento.

Spray-foam insulation systems sold in hardware stores contain toluene diisocyanates, and the paint strippers contain methylene chloride, the agency said.

In all three cases, there is “ample evidence’’ that exposure to these chemicals can be harmful, said Meredith Williams, a deputy director at DTSC.

Exposure to TDCPP has been linked to cancer and endocrine toxicity; diisocyanates to respiratory problems, including asthma, and cancer; and methylene chloride to cancer and neurotoxicity, according to DTSC.

The announcement of the proposed list sets in motion a lengthy process designed to encourage manufacturers to find safer alternatives for producing their products.

“We are not announcing a ban,’’ DTSC Director Debbie Raphael said. “We are starting a conversation with manufacturers to answer that critical question--are the chemicals necessary.’’

DTSC has scheduled a public meeting for March 17 at the California Environmental Protection Agency headquarters to begin the discussion on the draft list of priority products. A series of workshops are planned for May and June in Sacramento, Oakland and in Southern California.

Individual Rulemaking to Begin Later

The individual rulemakings required to officially list each of the priority products and chemicals of concern won't begin until later this year and could take 18 months to complete, DTSC said.

DTSC said a broader list of potential priority products and chemicals of concern would come in October, when the agency releases its three-year work plan for the regulations.

“We share the goal of chemical safety but are disappointed that today's announcement included products that are already being actively evaluated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,’’ the American Chemistry Council said in a March 13 written statement. “Rather than duplicating ongoing federal safety assessments, we urge DTSC to incorporate science-based information from existing sources, including EPA, and other authoritative bodies, in order to avoid conflict, gain synergies, minimize costs and maximize benefits.’’

Legislation enacted in 2008 mandated the regulations designed to implement the state's Green Chemistry Initiative.

DTSC took over six years to complete the groundbreaking regulations, but the end result is one the agency said it has faith will be successful.

The regulations established a process for identifying and restricting the use of toxic chemicals in consumer goods sold in the state .

Priority Products, Chemicals Identified

Under the law, DTSC identifies the priority products and chemicals. Manufacturers making the products may then be required to conduct lifecycle alternative analyses to determine if safer alternatives are possible.

DTSC then must issue a regulatory response, which could range from requiring reformulation of a product to banning the sale of the product in the state.

“Developing the procedural framework for this program has been quite challenging,’’ Cal-EPA Secretary Matthew Rodriquez said. “The program establishes an innovation process that identifies chemicals of concern and products that need to be made safer. We're ready to put this process to work to safeguard consumers across California.’’

DTSC's Williams said manufacturers of the children's sleeping mats and the paint and varnish strippers have alternatives. There are no currently available substitutes for the spray-foam insulation products, however, she said.

California's new flammability standards have prompted many manufacturers to begin eliminating the use of TDCPP from their products, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association said in a March 13 written statement.

“We look forward to working with the Department of Toxic Substances Control as we work together to ensure parents and caregivers provide children with the safest possible products,’’ JPMA Executive Director Kelly Mariotti said.

Hazardous Chemicals Included

Renee Sharp, director of research at the Environmental Working Group, said the proposed priority products includes hazardous chemicals “that should have never been allowed into products in the first place.

“It's long overdue,’’ Sharp said of the draft list, but the state Department of Toxic Substances Control and Gov. Jerry Brown (D) “deserve credit for beginning a process that we hope will identify safer alternatives, so California families will no longer be exposed to these and many other hazardous chemicals.’’


To contact the reporter on this story: Carolyn Whetzel in Los Angeles at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at

Information on the draft list of priority products and the regulations is available at

Request Environment & Energy Report