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Warning issued over proposed 'Green Chemistry' regs in California

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A proposed set of regulations that would force manufacturers to substitute alternative chemicals if they want to sell their products in California has been released for public comments, which will be accepted until Sept. 11, 2012. But according to Retail Law Observer, a newsletter published by a Los Angeles law firm, the “Green Chemistry Initiative” is a far-reaching set of rules that could have a profound effect on retailers, importers, distributors and manufacturers of a number of products. Many of them are in the home improvement or building channel.

The California's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), which will oversee the new regulations, will collaborate with product manufacturers to assess whether consumer products containing certain "chemicals of concern" can be made with safer ingredients. If the companies refuse to comply, sale of the products can be banned from California. 

Once implemented, the regulations will empower DTSC to order companies to use substitute chemicals when manufacturing certain consumer products or face a ban on the sale of those products in California. 

While the DTSC does not have a list of “unsafe” products, the “chemicals of concern” number 1,200. Examples are particulates (wood dust) and certain chemicals found in adhesives, sealants, some paints and coatings, and spray foam insulation.

“Manufacturers that currently sell products only outside of California will have to be increasingly vigilant about whether their products end up being sold in California, and are subject to these regulations,” warned the Retail Law Observer.

While the manufacturers have the primary responsibility to disclose ingredients, no one in the supply chain is off the hook, according to the lawyers:

“The importer will have responsibility if the manufacturer fails to comply, and retailers will be required to comply only if the manufacturer and importer (if any) fail to comply. Retailers will be responsible for tracking information posted on a "Failure to Comply" list on DTSC's website, and ensuring compliance for listed products.”

The proposed regulations are presently undergoing a 45-day public comment period. The DTSC intends to issue final regulations by the end of this year or early 2013. DTSC will hold a hearing on the proposed regulations on Sept. 10, 2012. The written comments period closes the next day.

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