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ACI Says "Challenges Remain" With California's Consumer Products Regs

Posted: March 4, 2013

Some improvements have been made to California’s proposed Safer Consumer Products Regulations, but challenges remain that would leave in place burdensome and unnecessary rules that could hinder the development of safer products, says the American Cleaning Institute (ACI).

In comments filed with the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), ACI said it was pleased with a number of the revisions the department has made to the proposed regulation and believes they will improve the department’s ability to implement the regulation. 

Those changes include a new definition which makes the distinction between an intentionally added ingredient and a contaminant. It says this distinction will allow DTSC to focus the alternatives analysis process on the most relevant aspects of product design and development. ·

Another change includes focusing the department’s resources on a robust subset of chemicals that is not so broad as to dilute its importance. The desired effects would send important signals to the market and add a measure of predictability to the process, the ACI says. 

In addition, the replacing of the “Chemical of Concern” terminology with the “Candidate Chemical” designation, provides added certainty and clarity to the regulation without diminishing its impact, ACI says. 

However, ACI is “greatly concerned and dismayed” at the alternatives analysis threshold set for contaminants at their detection limit, which ACI believes is “completely arbitrary.”

Paul DeLeo, ACI's senior director, environmental safety wrote: “The notion of conducting an alternatives analysis on a contaminant is nonsensical … contaminants by their definition are unnecessary, so an alternatives analysis is not required. These regulations should be strictly focused on intentionally added ingredients which are determined to be Chemicals of Concern in Priority Products.”

ACI also objects to a “List of Lists” approach to regulation, which “represents an abdication by the Department of its responsibility under the statute to identify and prioritize Chemicals of Concern.”

ACI also continues to be concerned with the inadequate Trade Secret Protection provisions of the proposed regulation.

“We are disappointed with DTSC’s continued reluctance to forcefully protect trade secrets and intellectual property,” wrote DeLeo. “The approach is self-defeating and inhibits the introduction of new, safer products to the marketplace.”

ACI added that the “success of the Safer Consumer Product regulations rests on the willingness of manufacturers to engage in the process and conduct these public Alternative Analyses (rather than abandon the market place).”

To that end, ACI urged DTSC to incorporate a safe harbor process whereby early adopters of the AA [Alternative Analysis] process, seeking to solve complex product design challenges, could work within the spirit of the regulations “but avoid the crushing bureaucratic burdens that will stifle the ability to bring a new safer innovative product to the market.”