On September 24, 2015, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control released its draft Alternatives Analysis Guide under the Safer Consumer Products (SCP) Regulations. The 106-page document is intended to provide members of the regulated community with guidance on how to undertake a Stage 1 Alternatives Analysis under DTSC’s new program. DTSC is accepting comments on the draft, and comments may be submitted electronically. DTSC also is holding two webinars on the draft guide, on October 7, 2015 and October 21, 2015.
The SCP Regulations, promulgated in October 2013, establish a four-element regulatory program intended to reduce toxic chemicals in California commerce by, among other things, leveraging green chemistry principles. The four elements of the program are:
- The Candidate Chemicals List;
- The Priority Products List;
- The Alternative Analysis (AA) process (a two-stage process); and
- Regulatory Responses.
Priority Products are product categories identified by DTSC in association with one or more specific Candidate Chemicals, which DTSC determines have the potential to expose humans or the environment to the specified Candidate Chemical(s) and the potential to cause adverse impacts. Only Priority Products must undergo the AA process. Through this process the “responsible entity” for a Priority Product determines whether a “safer” alternative is available.
In March 2014, DTSC released its draft Initial Priority Products List and ultimately identified (still in draft form) the following Priority Products: paint strippers containing methylene chloride; spray polyurethane foam (SPF) materials containing unreacted methylene diphenyl diisocyanates (MDI); and children’s foam-padded sleeping products containing the flame retardants TDCPP or TCEP. The Initial Priority Products List must be finalized via formal rulemaking. Once the list is finalized, responsible entities for the Priority Products will be subject to a number of regulatory obligations.
DTSC’s release of its draft AA Guide is long overdue, based on DTSC’s prior, albeit tentative, timetable on implementation of the SCP Regulations. Development of AA guidance is a necessary prerequisite for finalizing the Priority Products List through the required additional rulemaking. Thus, this draft AA Guide not only represents what DTSC considers best practices for AAs, but also is another step advancing the implementation of DTSC’s program.