New Green Ribbon Science Panel Subcommittees to Discuss Safer Consumer Product Alternatives Regulations
Three Subcommittees of the Green Ribbon Science Panel (Panel) have scheduled several teleconferences between May 31 and June 16, 2011, to discuss potential revisions to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control’s (DTSC) Safer Consumer Product Alternatives (SCPA) regulations, as required by AB 1879. These teleconferences are open to the public and comments may be provided. The Panel had previously convened three Subcommittees to discuss issues related to chemical identification and prioritization; product identification and prioritization; and de minimis and unintentionally-added chemicals. These issues were discussed by the full Panel when it met on May 5-6, 2011. During that meeting, the Panel discussed developing new subcommittees that would focus on issues related to the alternatives assessments (AA) process in anticipation of the next full Panel meeting.
Under AB 1879 and Health and Safety Code (HSC) Section 25253, DTSC is required to adopt regulations “that establish a process for evaluating chemicals of concern in consumer products, and their potential alternatives, to determine how best to limit exposure or to reduce the level of hazard posed by a chemical of concern.” The AA process is required to include life cycle assessment tools that take into consideration at least the following elements: (1) product function or performance; (2) useful life; (3) materials and resource consumption; (4) water conservation; (5) water quality impacts; (6) air emissions; (7) production, in-use, and transportation energy inputs; (8) energy efficiency; (9) greenhouse gas emissions; (10) water and end-of-life disposal; (11) public health impacts, including potential impacts to sensitive subpopulations, including infants and children; (12) environmental impacts; and (13) economic impacts. Following the completion of an AA, the regulations to be proposed must specify the regulatory responses that DTSC may take, ranging from not requiring any action, imposing use restrictions or labeling requirements, or prohibiting the use of the chemical of concern in the consumer product.
The three AA Subcommittees and the scheduled teleconferences are as follows:
- Quality Assurance for Alternatives Assessments Subcommittee:This Subcommittee had its first teleconference on May 31, 2011. DTSC stated that it will not have sufficient resources to conduct an in-depth review of AAs, so this Subcommittee focused its discussion on how the regulations could include provisions to ensure the quality and integrity of AAs performed by the product manufacturer, as well as AAs conducted by independent third-parties or those made fully available for public review. During the May 31 teleconference, Subcommittee members discussed topics related to the potential qualification requirements (i.e., education, experience, training certification) for persons conducting AAs and the circumstances, if any, when the regulations would require review or verification of an AA by an independent third-party. Subcommittee members also discussed how other regulatory agencies conduct AAs, including AA programs conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment (DfE) and California’s Air Resources Board. The next teleconference is scheduled for June 16, 2011, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (PDT). According to the agenda, the Subcommittee is expected to continue the dialogue about quality assurance for AAs, including work plans that would be submitted to DTSC in advance of the commencement of an AA and, to the extent that DTSC has available resources, how should DTSC focus its efforts on post-audit AAs.
- Alternatives Assessments Subcommittee: This Subcommittee has two teleconferences scheduled on June 1, 2011, and June 7, 2011. Both teleconferences are scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (PDT). The agendas for the teleconferences are posted on DTSC’s website, and indicate that the main discussion will be based on reviewing and commenting on a document entitled “Topic #1 — Alternatives Assessments (as described in AB 1879).” This document lists the following questions, each of which has sub-questions: (1) what basic requirements should be set out in the regulations to ensure that AAs meet the requirements of HSC Section 25253; (2) what basic requirements (if any) should be set out for meeting the life cycle requirements of HSC Section 25253; (3) should/how should the 13 elements specified in HSC Section 25253 for AA evaluations be grouped and/or sequenced (or should this be left entirely to the discretion of the entity performing the AA); (4) what data or other information should be required to be obtained or developed and evaluated to support the AA analysis; and (5) what is a reasonable timeframe to allow for completion of an AA evaluation meeting the requirements of HSC Section 25253.
- Tiered Alternatives Assessments Subcommittee: This Subcommittee has two teleconferences scheduled on June 2, 2011, and June 14, 2011. Both teleconferences are scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (PDT). The agenda for the June 2 teleconference has been posted on DTSC’s website, and indicates that the main discussion will be based on reviewing and commenting on a document entitled “Topic #2 — Tiered Alternatives Assessments.” This document lists the following questions, each of which has sub-questions: (1) which of two different proposed tiered approaches should be used for developing a tiered AA process; (2) if the tiers are distinguished by the scope of factors to be evaluated, how many tiers should there be, and what elements should be required to be included for each AA tier; (3) what data or other information should be required to be obtained or developed or evaluated to support each AA tier; (4) what should be the circumstances or conditions for allowing a manufacturer to conduct a lower tier AA; and (5) should/how should lower tier AAs be linked to the different types of regulatory responses.
As noted, the teleconferences are open to the public. The discussions held by the Subcommittees during these teleconferences are intended to help inform the discussions by the full Panel when it meets on July 14-15, 2011, in Sacramento.
Agenda, meeting notices, other meeting materials, and how to access the various teleconferences are available online.