Right now, we deal with the hazardous substances in our everyday products only when they present an emergency or when it comes time to dispose of them. Lead found in children’s lunch boxes. The mercury in our light bulbs. Chemicals in 9-volt batteries. Arsenic and formaldehyde in wood products. Most consumers are unaware of the sheer number of chemicals in the products they use every day, as well as to their effects. Green Chemistry represents a large-scale paradigm shift in the way we view the chemicals contained in consumer products – evaluating the potential hazards when a product is in development rather than only once it's being used by consumers or disposed of (also known as "cradle to grave")

Today, Governor Schwarzenegger signed two laws that begin a shift in California – and thereby throughout the world

toward a strong focus on Green Chemistry. Assembly Bill 1879 (Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles) and Senate Bill 509 (Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto) together will establish and define California’s Environmental Protection Agency’s and the state Department of Toxic Substances Control’s oversight of hazardous chemicals and the everyday products in which they are contained.

California Is Reaching Another Green Milestone

These bills begin building the nation’s most comprehensive green chemistry program based on science.

Together, these bills make up the cornerstone of a comprehensive chemical policy to improve public health and California’s environment by cataloging hazardous chemicals and products that contain them.

FACT: Every day, the United States produces or imports 42 billion pounds of chemicals. (Source: “Green Chemistry in California: A Framework for Leadership in Chemicals Policy and Innovation,” University of California’s California Policy Research Center, 2006)

FACT: Global chemical production is expected to double every 25 years through 2030. (Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

California will begin a systematic shift in how it views and deals with hazardous chemicals in consumer goods and products – from their “cradle” rather than only at their “grave.” Green Chemistry represents a new approach to reducing hazardous chemicals and toxic waste by rethinking how we design, manufacture, and use chemicals in products and their development.

Just like AB 32 changed how we view the greenhouse gases we produce, these bills will affect how we view chemicals in the products we use.

California is taking a comprehensive instead of a piecemeal approach to eradicate hazardous toxins. Instead of reacting to newspaper headlines about toxic discoveries in products, and ending the less effective “chemical by chemical” bans of individual products or substances, California will develop a comprehensive approach to catalog and monitor substances.

This comprehensive approach will enable California to prevent dangers, rather than simply address them when they present themselves.

Green Chemistry in California will spur economic growth. This legislation will help promote innovation in a new industry sector, encouraging venture capital investment and job creation.

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California’s Action will have worldwide effect – bringing health safety and environmental protection to markets around the world. Because the bulk of consumer products and goods are produced outside of California – and because California is one of the world’s largest markets for goods – its Green Chemistry initiative will contribute to the consumer safety and health of people around the world.

Green Chemistry is broadly supported as the next frontier in the fight to make our everyday lives healthier, safer, and more environmentally sound. A coalition of manufacturers, chemical companies and environmental groups are supporting efforts to build a solid scientific foundation for more aggressive efforts to reduce industry’s reliance on toxic chemicals.

The Legislation:

Assembly Bill 1879 (Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles) would provide the California Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Toxic Substances Control with the authority to establish a prioritization process for identifying chemicals of concern. AB 1879 gives DTSC authority to adopt regulations and seek safer science-based alternatives to toxic chemicals. This bill also creates appropriate guidance and oversight through a new Green Ribbon Science Panel of experts and by expanding the role of the Environmental Policy Council, made up of Cal/EPA’s boards, departments and office heads.

Senate Bill 509 (Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto) would establish a Toxics Information Clearinghouse for the purposes of collecting, maintaining and distributing chemical hazard traits and environmental and toxicological end-point data. This will allow DTSC to gain greater knowledge about the toxicity and hazard traits of thousands of chemicals used in California today. The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment would be required to evaluate and specify the hazard traits and any other relevant data that is to be included in the clearinghouse.

The Governor Has a Strong Record of Supporting Safer Use of Chemicals in California

California Safe Cosmetics Act. In 2005, he signed the nation’s first law requiring disclosure of chemical ingredients in cosmetics (SB 484, Migden).

First-in-the-Nation Biomonitoring Effort. In September 2006, he signed landmark biomonitoring legislation (SB 1379, Perata) that made California the first state to measure and catalogue human exposure to chemicals.

Launching the Green Chemistry Initiative. In April 2007 Linda Adams, Secretary for Environmental Protection, charged the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) with the launch of the California Green Chemistry Initiative in collaboration with California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) boards, departments and offices, as well as other state agencies. The Secretary requested that DTSC conduct a broad public process to generate ideas, develop overall policy goals and make recommendations.

Protecting Infants and Toddlers From Chemicals in Baby Products. In October 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger signed legislation to protect the health of our state’s children by prohibiting the use of phthalates in toys and childcare products designed for babies and children under three years of age.

In his signing message, the Governor reaffirmed that “[a] comprehensive and unified approach [to chemicals] is needed to ensure good accountable policy.” “I am looking forward to the recommendations being developed as part of the Green Chemistry Initiative led by my Secretary for Environmental Protection. I encourage the Legislature and all California stakeholders to participate in this important initiative so that we can develop policies that will again allow California to lead the nation and the world in health and environmental protection.”

(Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, AB 1108, Signing Message, 10/14/07)

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