California Moves to Remove First in a Series of Toxic Chemicals from Consumer Products
Oakland, Calif. – The state of California has launched an important initiative to protect its residents from exposures to toxic substances by calling on industry to find safer alternatives for three widely used chemicals, Environmental Working Group said today in a statement.
“These are hazardous chemicals linked to cancer and asthma that should never have been allowed into products in the first place,” said Renee Sharp, EWG’s director of research. “It’s long overdue, but the state Department of Toxic Substances Control and Governor Brown 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.”
The Department of Toxic Substances Control called for action on these three categories of chemicals and products:
- Children's foam-padded sleeping products containing TDCPP (chlorinated Tris), a flame retardant identified as carcinogen under California's Proposition 65 law. Children and infants are especially vulnerable to its potential to cause cancer and other chronic health problems.
- Spray polyurethane foam systems containing unreacted diisocyanates. These systems are used for home and building insulation, weatherization, sealing and roofing. Diisocyanates can irritate skin and the respiratory tract and cause asthma and cancer. They are a leading cause of occupational asthma.
- Paint strippers containing methylene chloride. This chemical is an acute neurotoxin and carcinogen. Since 2000, exposure to stripping agents containing methylene chloride has resulted in the death of a number of workers.
By listing these priority products and candidate chemicals, the state is now “asking manufacturers to figure out if there’s a safer alternative” according to the statement by DTSC. This is the next phase of the process under California’s Safer Consumer Products regulations, which took effect in October 2013.
Ultimately, Congress and the federal Environmental Protection Agency must take action to protect all Americans from the risks of toxic chemicals, said EWG’s Sharp:
“California’s program is far smaller than it should be and is able to tackle only a very small number of products and chemicals. We need more resources to go to the state Department of Toxic Substances Control so it can expand the program, and we need true chemical policy reform at the federal level to fix this mess that puts each and every American at risk.”