EPA and DTSC team up against harmful chemicals in products

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control have teamed up against harmful chemicals in consumer products by the signing of a landmark agreement today, reports the EPA in a news release posted on their site. The agreement is designed to  ”add momentum” to the reduction of toxic chemicals in everyday products along with helping California’s “Green Chemistry” program and more green businesses to grow.

EPA and DTSC team up against harmful chemicals in products

harmful chemicals in products

Manufacturers will have to identify nearly 3,000 harmful chemicals in products

SAN LEANDRO, CA “This is a major step in protecting Californians from unnecessary chemicals in everyday consumer products,” said DTSC’s Director Debbie Raphael. “The innovative spirit of this partnership also signals that government agencies can pool resources in a challenging fiscal environment to better serve the public,” she said.

The U.S. EPA’s Green Chemistry Program supports fundamental research in the area of environmentally benign chemistry as well as a variety of educational activities, international activities, conferences and meetings, and tool development, all through voluntary partnerships with academia, industry, other government agencies and non-government organizations.

“This partnership will build and harmonize common tools and practices used to conduct alternative assessments to promote safer products,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “These alternative assessments inform and speed the adoption of safer chemicals for use in products, homes, schools, and workplaces, which produce significant environmental and economic benefits.”

DTSC and U.S. EPA signed the agreement in a ceremony at California’s Kaiser Permanente Sidney R. Garfield Health Care Innovation Center in San Leandro. Kaiser Permanente is nationally recognized as an industry leader in safer products, using its purchasing power and a sustainability scorecard to press suppliers for safer chemicals in medical products.

“We spend billions of dollars every year on products. Yet despite that leverage we suffer the same problems that individual consumers face as they try to buy products that don’t contain harmful chemicals,” said Kathy Gerwig, Kaiser Permanente’s vice president for employee safety, health and wellness and environmental stewardship officer. “We want to shift the burden of assessing what is safe from downstream users like us to upstream manufacturers.” read more

This would seem a perfect union and a good thing for California both healthwise and economically, as both organizations have worked towards educating the public about harmful chemicals in products. For many years, The EPA has issues numerous health warnings which includes reports about the dangers of household cleaning chemicals. One of many such reports in 1985 said that “toxic chemicals in household cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than air pollution.”
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control have announced similar concerns on their site- “Any common household products are hazardous. If these products are handled or disposed of incorrectly, they can pose a threat to human health, animals and the environment. In California, it is illegal to dispose of Household Hazardous Waste in the trash, down the drain, or by abandonment.”

More on the progress will be revealed later in 2012 but for now one concern is- you never know with organizations- this agreement is supposed to eliminate the red tape but we’ll see. Also too, this upcoming presidential election may have a significant impact on this good intentioned agreement, as both organizations (governmental) could be eliminated at the push of a button at the voting booth.


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