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Environmental Health Advocates Applaud California Green Chemistry Initiative

Advocates to State: "We look forward to swift and strong implementation of policy recommendations"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 16, 2008
Contact: Shannon Coughlin, 415-336-2246 cell,

Sacramento – The California Environmental Protection Agency released the long-awaited Green Chemistry Initiative Final Recommendations today, drawing praise from public health advocates and consumer groups. Once implemented, the Green Chemistry Initiative would put California at the forefront of global efforts to reduce toxic chemicals in products and foster a new manufacturing paradigm based on environmental health and safety. Advocates note that the recommendations now need to be translated into strong legislation and administrative action.

“If California does this right, we can use our world-renowned ingenuity to revolutionize the chemical revolution,” said Jeanne Rizzo, president and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund. “We can stop relying on cancer-causing chemicals and manufacturing processes and put ourselves on the path toward safe, clean and green chemistry. But it will take incredible commitment and investment. It will also require that the state develop mandatory actions and strong incentives for change, where appropriate.”

The GCI report includes six policy recommendations: 1.) Expand pollution prevention; 2.) Develop a green chemistry workforce education and training; 3.) Create an online product ingredient network; 4.) Create an online toxics clearinghouse; 5.) Accelerate the quest for safer products; and 6.) Move toward a cradle-to-cradle economy.

Recommendations 4 and 5 are covered by consumer product safety laws passed in September. The laws, AB 1879 (Feuer) and SB 509 (Simitian), give the state authority to monitor the use of chemicals in everyday products and create a public online database of information on these chemicals. The legislation will also design a process to evaluate and, if necessary, regulate chemicals of concern in consumer products.

The Breast Cancer Fund was at the forefront of securing passage of the legislation, and was co-sponsor and lead advocate for nearly all of the landmark laws the EPA cites as the foundation for GCI: the 2005 safe cosmetics law, the 2006 biomonitoring legislation and the 2007 toxic toys law. Rizzo says that her organization worked on this legislation and is in support of GCI because an increasing body of scientific evidence links toxic chemicals to devastating diseases like breast cancer. “We’re encouraged that California recognizes that in order to protect our health and our environment, we need a fundamental shift in how we use chemicals,” said Rizzo.

“These recommendations show that California is ready to be a green chemistry leader,” said Gretchen Lee Salter, policy manager at the Breast Cancer Fund. But Salter also noted that the release of the recommendations is just a first step on the road to guaranteeing the safety and sustainability of consumer goods in the state. “We’re excited about the recommendations and we look forward to working with the administration and legislature on strong and speedy implementation.”