California enacted new Safer Consumer Products regulations in 2013. As a result, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) singled out toxins in children’s nap maps with the flame retardant TDCPP, spray-foam insulation made with diisocyanates, and paint strippers with methylene chloride as among the first it seeks to eliminate. Companies that manufacture these products will be required to replace the alleged toxins with an alternative substance proven to be less hazardous to the citizens of California. Since California is the most populated state in United States, the agency’s decisions could affect consumers, manufacturers and retailers across the nation.
According to its website, the mission of DTSC is “to protect California’s people and environment from harmful effects of toxic substances through the restoration of contaminated resources, enforcement, regulation and pollution prevention.”
In order to handle the new legislation efficiently, lawmakers and their industry and scientific advisors had to create a priority list of about 150 hazardous chemicals from the 1,100 registered. Then, they focused on figuring out which items would be more common and pose the largest risk to human health. A new list will be announced with additional products in October.
Manufacturers of the harmful products will now have 180 days to perform an analysis of alternatives, and then one year to finish a final analysis after the first analysis is approved by the state. A public “failure-to-comply” list will kept by California, permitting the state to issue warnings and even ultimately banning the product for refusing to replace the toxins.
Debbie Raphael, DTSC director, declined to say which products did not make the list, but did say that the three chemicals currently on the list stood out since they were used in such high quantities.
The chemical being removed from the children’s foam pads, TDCPP, isn’t even listed on the product’s label, despite making up nearly one to five percent of the foam matter by weight. However, the majority of paint and varnish strippers contain more than 60 percent of methylene chloride according to volume. Diisocyanates typically make up as much as 50 percent of spray-foam systems by volume, a spokeswoman for DTSC, Tammy Adamek, confirmed.
“It’s going to be a huge program, it’s going to be massive, and it’s going to be expensive,” said Pamela Williams, executive vice president at the California Retailers Association in Sacramento.
While it may take up to a year for products to be positively identified and added to the list of those affected by the new law, Williams says retailers are already looking at their inventory to see which products they may want to stop selling in order to get ahead on compliance. “Their immediate attention is going to be looking internally at what of these products do we sell, what alternatives might there be now, and is there anything we want to do differently now?” Williams said.