State government outed three manufacturing products it says are harmful to consumers Thursday, giving manufacturers time to remove the toxic chemicals from their goods or, as a last resort, ban them from store shelves by 2016.
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control identified various children’s foam padded sleeping items, paint and varnish strippers and spray polyurethane foam as dangerous products that need to be revamped to be considered safe.
“Life is tough enough already,” Matthew Rodriguez, California secretary for Environmental Protection, said during a press conference. He said consumers have to make hundreds of choices a day and shouldn’t be bombarded with products that will harm them.
The announcement is part of a bigger effort to educate consumers and manufacturers about product safety under the Green-Chemistry Law, which went into effect in California last year.
Under the law, the agency has jurisdiction to ban these products altogether after following proper protocol. That process includes workshops, public comment period and requiring manufacturers that want to sell these products in California to determine whether it would be feasible to use safer ingredients.
The procedure could take up to two years. The agency will continue to investigate the dangers of other products, but so far have deemed these three a top priority.
Group is ‘disappointed’”We share the goal of chemical safety but are disappointed that today’s announcement included products that are already being actively evaluated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” the trade group said in a written statement. “Rather than duplicating ongoing federal safety assessments, we urge DTSC to incorporate science-based information from existing sources, including EPA and other authoritative bodies, in order to avoid conflict, gain synergies, minimize costs and maximize benefits.”
The state agency said it is looking out for California consumers.
“Not only is the Department of Toxic Substances Control asking that these three products be made safer, it is signaling to manufacturers to examine their products and find safer alternative ingredients whenever any of the more than 1,100 chemicals identified by this program are used,” said Debbie Raphael, the agency’s director.
Agency officials said that chlorinated tris phosphate, or TDCPP, is one of the most commonly used flame retardants found in children’s sleeping foam products such as nap mats, infant travel and car beds and bassinets. TDCPP is a cancer-causing and hormone-disrupting chemical, according to the state.
Use other products”There is no reason to have a flame retardant in these products,” said Meredith Williams, the department’s deputy director, warning that consumers may not be able to tell whether the product contains chlorinated tris phosphate. She suggested that consumers turn to products not treated with flame retardants, such as beds and pad made from polyester, fiberfill, cotton and wool.
Spray polyurethane foam, a product used for home and building insulation, contains diisocyanates and is a leading cause of occupational asthma in the United States and Europe. It is also suspected to cause cancer, according to the department. About 50 percent of spray polyurethane foams are made of diisocyanates. Officials recommend avoiding using this product, but if necessary restrict use to essential workers, who should wear protective clothing and face shields, and use proper exhaust and ventilation.
The department also found that any paint and varnish stripper or surface cleaner made with methylene chloride is a carcinogenic that can cause death when the chemical is transformed in the body into carbon monoxide.
Caused 14 deaths”We know that between 2000 and 2011 14 bathtub finishers lost their lives while stripping bathtubs” using products containing methylene chloride, Williams said.
“Since there are alternatives in the market, we have to ask why it’s necessary to use this chemical,” she said.
Starting in May, the department will begin holding statewide public workshops, explaining the dangers of these products.
“People want safer consumer products, and this program establishes a process by which government and businesses can work together to meet this public demand,” Rodriguez said. “Many companies already understand that looking for product alternatives to reduce consumer risk is a sound business practice. The eyes of the world will be watching us as we progress in this new, collective effort to protect public health and preserve our environment.”