The California Senate has introduced SB 258, the Cleaning Product Right To Know Act of 2017, which would require manufacturers to list all ingredients on cleaning products sold within the state. This follows last year’s failure of a similar bill, AB 708. The requirements of SB 258 would apply to any product manufactured or sold within the state after January 1st, 2018. SB 258, which was introduced by Senator Ricardo Lara, is currently under review by the rules committee.
Requirements under SB259
The Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017 establishes several requirements, which are summarized below.
Each physical product shall contain:
- A list of each ingredient and “contaminant of concern” in the cleaning product in order in order of prominence. Ingredients in a concentration of 1% or less may be listed behind all other ingredients without regard to prominence.
- A picture communicating the potential health risks of the ingredients in the product that are included in the Annex III of EU Cosmetics Regulation 1223/2009 list of candidate chemicals and allergenic fragrances.
- The California Environmental Protection Agency will develop the model pictures to be used on products.
- A statement directing consumers to the manufacturers web page for detailed information concerning ingredients in the product. Contained on the web page shall be:
- A detailed list of ingredients and corresponding potential health concerns in descending order of prominence, including each ingredient’s Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) number and functional purpose.
- If any ingredients are contained in the Annex III of EU Cosmetics Regulation 1223/2009 list of candidate chemicals, the web page shall include both the list of candidate chemicals and the Annex III of EU Cosmetics Regulation 1223/2009.
- A Quick Response (QR) code that is readable by mobile devices and which contains a warning about any candidate chemicals contained in a product.
Concerns about Confidentiality
The bill states that “To protect trade secrets, this section shall not be construed to require a manufacturer to disclose the weight or amount of an ingredient or how a cleaning product is manufactured, and shall not require ingredients or contaminants of concern present at a concentration below one percent be listed in a particular order.” Many industry leaders have opposed the bill, expressing concerns such as protecting trade secrets in the fragrance industry, which is often plagued by counterfeiters. Other industry leaders, however, have embraced the bill, hoping that increased transparency will boost consumer trust in their products.
Do Current Industry Practices Render SB 258 Unnecessary?
There has been a growing trend of increasing self-regulation by retailers and manufacturers. For example, the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) has spearheaded a voluntary ingredient disclosure program, the Cleaning Product Ingredient Safety Initiative (CPISI). The CPISI web-based database contains information and exposure assessments for hundreds of product ingredients. And, the retailer Target, acting essentially as a private regulator, recently announced its own plans to both eliminate certain chemicals of concern and boost ingredient transparency through increased labeling in certain products — and it is not the only retailer to do so. As a result, industries are increasingly forced to navigate fragmented regulations from multiple sources.
ACI reportedly has expressed opposition to SB 258, saying that voluntary industry reporting makes state level bills unnecessary. The ACI’s statement reflects a growing tension between industry, which seeks to produce products at lower expenses, and state and private regulators, who seek to appeal to constituents and consumers.
This blog article was researched and written by Brown University Class of 2018 student Aisha Keown-Lang. Ms. Lang is studying biology and political science at Brown University with the goal of going into bioethics and public health. Her special interest in genetics stems from her research in the Li Lab at UCSF and the Gerbi Lab at Brown. After having worked with children in the Providence school system for nearly three years, her commitment to improving scientific literacy and expanding health services in underserved communities remains strong. Ms. Lang is currently a writer for Brown’s Science Cartoon Program (SciToons), which aims to communicate scientific research and ideas to a diverse audience.
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