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California Historic Safer Consumer Products Program Launches Oct. 1

Groundbreaking program will transform the way California addresses toxic chemicals in everyday products by evaluating potential alternatives

For Immediate Release: September 26, 2013
Contact: Margie Kelly, 541-222-9699, mkelly@breastcancerfund.org, or Shannon Coughlin, 415-336-2246, scoughlin@breastcancerfund.org

SAN FRANCISCO – On October 1, California will launch the Safer Consumer Products program, becoming the first state in the nation to regulate toxic chemicals used in everyday products. Mandated by laws passed in 2008, the program will require manufacturers to use nontoxic ingredients in commonly used products and will have the authority to ban or limit the use of certain chemicals.

Gretchen Lee Salter, senior program and policy manager at the Breast Cancer Fund, said, “Establishing this program is a big step in the right direction. More and more science is linking toxic chemical exposure to cancer, asthma, obesity, infertility and other serious health problems, and California is taking action. Because of this program, safer products will eventually be available to everyone in the state, regardless of where they shop.”

The program will identify hazardous chemicals used in everyday products that have been linked to cancer, reproductive harm, endocrine disruption, developmental harm, environmental damage and other hazards; prioritize key chemicals; and require manufacturers using these chemicals to evaluate alternatives. Upon completion of the alternatives assessment the state will issue a regulatory response that could include banning or restricting the use of the priority chemicals or any of their potential alternatives. The first list of priority chemicals will be released in 2014. 

“While this new regulatory process will move slowly, manufacturers already see the writing on the wall, and many will voluntarily reformulate to remove problematic chemicals,” said Salter. Companies like Procter & Gamble and Walmart are already making changes: Recently they announced plans to eliminate the use of some of the chemicals that are likely candidates for elimination under California’s program.

The impact of California’s program is expected to reverberate across the United States as companies conform to the new rules governing the nation’s most populous state. “As goes California, so goes the nation,” said Salter, “Because to reformulate for California means to reformulate, period.”

The Breast Cancer Fund and its allies in the CHANGE coalition, who worked for six years to ensure that the program was established according to the intent of the law, will continue to watchdog the program, especially how it protects the most vulnerable among us including pregnant women, workers and fence line communities.

“There’s more to be done to make the program stronger, like securing funding to keep it running and expanding the regulations to require businesses to publicly disclose ingredients and hazard data,” said Salter. “We’ll be monitoring this program closely and will work to ensure that it has the resources it needs to live up to its full potential.”

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The Breast Cancer Fund is the leading national organization working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposures to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease. Our Cans Not Cancer campaign is working to eliminate the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) from food can linings and ensure that it is replaced with a safer alternative.