International Year of Chemistry, 2011

UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Partners for the
International Year of Chemistry 2011

See all Activities

California advances Green Chemistry principles with new Draft Safer Consumer Products Regulations

Activity by Jim Wasserman   |   added on Oct 31, 2011   |   United States Official_iyc_logo

Sponsor(s): California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC)

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) today released informal draft regulations to make safer consumer products widespread in California. The regulations, employing key principles of Green Chemistry, provide more protection against toxic chemicals in products on store shelves.


 Draft Safer Consumer Product Regulations Released by DTSC

 SACRAMENTO, CA - The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) today released informal draft regulations to make safer consumer products widespread in California.  The regulations provide more protection against toxic chemicals in products on store shelves, while creating market opportunities for industry.


The regulations called for in California's Green Chemistry Initiative will create a practical, meaningful and legally defensible approach to identifying and moving toward safer consumer products.  Using a science-based process during a product’s design phase, they require the identification of toxic ingredients and the analysis of alternatives to that ingredient.  Based on the results of the analysis a number of steps can be taken, including removal of the toxic ingredient, posting product information for consumers, further research and development and safety measures.

 The informal draft Safer Consumer Products Regulations reflect more than two years of outreach to a variety of stakeholders and the public, and is a vital component of California’s 2008 Green Chemistry Initiative.  Following this informal public comment period, DTSC will develop formal proposed regulations next year and solicit further input prior to adopting a final version.

 “Californians should not need a Ph. D. to go shopping,” said DTSC Director Debbie Raphael. “They should feel confident as they walk the aisles of any store that products on the shelves are safe to use and free of toxic chemicals. We want manufacturers to ask: Is it necessary to use a toxic chemical in their consumer product, or is there a safer alternative?” See introductory video here: 

 “Many people assume that because a product is legal to sell, it’s safe to use,” Raphael said.  “More and more, there’s an understanding that some of the health and environmental problems we see in the world today may, in fact, stem from toxic chemicals in consumer products.  A number of other countries are already taking action, but our Green Chemistry Initiative puts California at the forefront.”

 She pointed out that many of the concepts DTSC put in the regulations are already in use by companies that are making safer products and finding a large market among consumers.

 “Companies are finding new revenue opportunities as shoppers look for products they don’t have to worry about,” said Raphael. “Early adopters, such as Apple, Green Toys, California Baby, Method and others that have been first to meet this demand, are proving it’s a profitable business strategy.”

 Raphael said the regulations aim to stimulate a new alternatives analysis economy and create opportunities for young chemists and product designers who consider safety to humans and the environment on the same level as performance and efficiency.

A proposed set of regulations was introduced in 2010, but additional time was required to refine the concepts in that proposal.  The version released today greatly shortens timeframes, immediately establishes a list of chemicals of concern, and stimulates a change in the way products are created by incorporating impacts to health and the environment into the design phase.

 The regulations will be discussed by DTSC’s Green Ribbon Science Panel on November 14-15 in Sacramento. (The 25-member panel consists of leading scientists who provide advice to DTSC on scientific matters and chemical policy).  Click here for the informal draft regulations text.

 Assembly Bill 1879 and Senate Bill 509, two laws that are part of California’s Green Chemistry Program, were signed into law in 2008. These laws authorize DTSC to develop an alternatives analysis framework to stimulate the rapid acceleration of replacement of harmful chemicals and ingredients with safer alternatives in products sold in California.

 NOTE TO EDITORS – For further information or interviews  please contact Jim  Marxen at (916) 869-5056 or

# # #


The Mission of DTSC is to protect California’s people and environment from harmful effects of toxic substances by restoring contaminated properties, identifying and promoting safer ingredients in consumer products, and ensuring stewardship through enforcement, regulation and pollution prevention.

FOR GENERAL INQUIRIES: Contact the Department of Toxic Substances Control by phone at (800) 728-6942 or visit To report illegal handling, discharge, or disposal of hazardous waste, call the Waste Alert Hotline at (800) 698-6942. 

Topic: safer products, alternatives analysis, toxic materials, chemistry, product lifecycle, product innovation, product design Audience: general public, chemists, scientists, manufacturers, students, decision makers, environmentalists, consumer product developers, consumers
Want to submit your own activity or comment?

In order to do so you need to be part of the IYC network. Please or sign up now.

Join the IYC Network