Sep 30, 2015

California’s DTSC Releases Draft Guidance on Safer Consumer Products Regulations’ Alternatives Analysis

On Sept. 24, California's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) released draft guidance on Stage 1 of its Safer Consumer Products Regulations' (SCP) Alternatives Analysis. The agency is accepting comments on the draft Stage 1 guidance until Oct. 23. 

DTSC will also be conducting webinars on Join one of our webinars on Oct. 7 and Oct. 21, 2015 to discuss the guidance. You may download and comment on the Draft Stage 1 Alternatives Analysis Guide through the Safer Consumer Products Information Management System (CalSAFER).

According to DTSC, the Draft Stage 1 Alternatives Analysis Guide provides useful approaches, methods, resources, tools and examples of how to fulfill SCP's regulatory requirements. The draft of the Alternatives Analysis Guide only covers the first stage Alternatives Analysis required by the SCP regulations. A draft including the second stage Alternatives Analysis is scheduled to be released in the first quarter of 2016.

The two stages of the Alternatives Analysis process are:

First Stage: During the first stage the responsible entity identifies the goal, scope, legal, functional, and performance requirements of the Priority Product and the Chemical of Concern, and uses this information to identify and screen an array of alternatives to consider. When the first stage is completed, the responsible entity documents the analysis findings in a Preliminary Alternatives AnalysisReport, and submits that report along with a Work Plan for completing the Alternatives Analysisto DTSC (see table on page 16 of the Alternatives Analysis Guide for more details).

Second Stage: During the second stage Alternatives Analysis, the responsible entity follows the approved work plan from the first stage Alternatives Analysisto compare the Priority Product with the alternatives still under consideration using all available information for the relevant factors. The second Alternatives Analysisstage contains an in-depth analysis that refines the relevant factors and product function descriptions of the first stage and expands the analysis to consider additional impacts, including life cycle and economic impacts (see table on page 17 of the Alternatives Analysis Guide for more details).

The California Safer Consumer Products Regulations were finalized in October 2013, and DTSC has already taken steps to list and potentially regulate three Priority Products. On March 13, 2014, DTSC proposed the following three Priority Products: 1) spray foam systems containing unreacted diisocyanates; 2) paint and varnish strippers containing methylene chloride; and 3) children's sleeping pads containing chlorinated tris. After a Priority Product has been listed, responsible entities will have 60 days to provide notice to DTSC if they are manufacturing a Priority Product for sale in California, and the responsible entity may then be required to conduct an Alternatives Analysis. After reviewing an industry Alternatives Analysis, DTSC may initiate a regulatory response to restrict, limit, or prohibit the use of the Priority Product or chemical.

In April 2015, DTSC released its Priority Product Work Plan for 2015 through 2017. The work plan outlines the product categories and chemical classes that DTSC will review to develop Priority Products under the SCP Regulations over the next three years to provide a "level of predictability" to entities that may become subject to the regulations. 

The work plan describes seven broad product categories and a list of potential chemicals or chemical classes for consideration under each broad product category. The work plan explains the department's prioritization methodology and its decision to select these particular products and potential chemicals for evaluation. Given the number of products in the work plan, it is highly likely that DTSC will not be able to evaluate all of these products over the course of the next three years.

Under the Building Products category, the work plan designates paint, primers, roof coatings, stains, varnishes, adhesives, sealants, and caulking as potential Priority Products for evaluation. With regard to building materials, DTSC cited concerns about exposure to sensitive subpopulations in the built environment, including workers and children, with a focus on flame retardants and potential impacts on indoor air quality and human health.

The work plan also identifies the following candidate chemicals in building materials for potential regulatory action: brominated or chlorinated organic compounds, isocyanates, metals (e.g., chromium VI), perfluorinated compounds, phthalates, and volatile organic compounds (e.g., formaldehyde, toluene). While DTSC has cited these chemicals found in building products as examples, the department may identify chemicals outside of this list after conducting its evaluations.  

According to the work plan, DTSC plans to announce three new Priority Products in 2015. Then, DTSC plans to raise that goal for 2016 and 2017 to at least five products each year. Before proposing potential Priority Products, DTSC intends to gather additional information on the product categories through workshops, stakeholder outreach, and data call-ins. It is important to note that the work plan does not introduce any regulatory requirements on industry.  

ACA staff has been engaged with its membership and DTSC throughout the development of California's Safer Consumer Products regulatory process, regularly attending workshops and providing comments.

Contact ACA's Tim Serieor Stephen Wieroniey for more information.