Thursday marked the last day the public could comment on the draft regulations proposed for California’s sweeping new Green Chemistry Initiative.
Several prominent scientists, public health officials and environmental organizations expressed their dismay – including the state’s own scientific advisory panel, the Green Ribbon Science Panel.
The Green Chemistry Initiative has been touted by environmentalists as one of the most progressive, bold and innovative approaches to effective and efficient regulation of industrial chemicals in consumer products.
But according to letters addressed to California's Department of Toxic Substances Control, many feel the state hasn’t gone far enough, ignoring the latest science while pandering to the chemical industry’s interests.
“The proposed regulations read like a chemical company’s wish list,” said Renee Sharp, director of the California office of Environmental Working Group, in a press release. “Green Chemistry was passed with promises of a new, more effective and efficient way to protect the public from toxic chemical exposures, and the state is essentially putting all of its eggs for regulating chemicals into the Green Chemistry basket. It is essential that we get it right.”
One of the most widespread criticisms was the state’s decision to only test products that exceed a certain threshold of concerning chemicals. Known as the “de minimis” standard or quantity, consumer products with concentrations of hazardous chemicals at, or below, 0.1 percent could be sold in the state.
“In light of the potential for health effects from exposure to even low levels of many chemicals found in consumer products, the cumulative effects of aggregate exposures, and the wide variation in chemical potency, a one-size-fits-all approach cannot be scientifically justified,” wrote Michael Wilson and Meg Schwarzman, both of whom are scientists UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. “Certainly, it cannot be expected to protect public health.”
Wilson was also the lead author of the landmark study that set the Green Chemistry Initiative in motion.
Members of the Green Ribbon Science Panel also had a few things to say, including a pointed line about being ignored:
We have previously discussed many of these points in detail at meetings of the Green Ribbon Science Panel and were very disappointed to see that these concerns and recommendations were not reflected in the regulations.
You can read more of the letters here.