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Organic Consumers Association

California to Review Toxic Substances in Consumer Products

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SACRAMENTO - Hundreds of items found on supermarket shelves, such as shampoos, cleaning supplies, cosmetics and food packaging, could get chemical makeovers under new rules being put in force by California.

On Thursday, state toxic chemical regulators will unveil what they say is the nation's most comprehensive program for identifying and reformulating common consumer products containing hazardous chemicals.

In the past, the state took a piecemeal approach. Lawmakers would ban specific chemicals from particular products, such as bisphenol A in baby bottles and sippy cups.

That's being replaced by a more systematic approach. Under the new rules, which go into effect Oct. 1, the state will identify classes of products for review, such as nail polish. Manufacturers will then have to perform detailed analyses to justify whether hazardous chemicals are needed or whether substitutes are available.

"They have to look at alternatives and identify one that is in fact safer," said Debbie Raphael, director of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

The rules are "practical, meaningful and legally defensible" against potential industry lawsuits, she said.

The agency has been working on the new rules since 2008 after the state Legislature passed a pair of bills backing a so-called green chemistry initiative by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican. The first effort was abandoned in late 2010. Incoming Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown ordered the regulation-writing process rebooted.  


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