EPA Posts List of Safer Chemical Ingredients for DfE Safer Product Labeling Program

Design for the Environment (DfE):

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today posted a List of Safer Chemical Ingredients that contains chemicals that meet stringent criteria applied by the Design for the Environment (DfE) Safer Product Labeling Program. This program recognizes products that are high-performance and cost-effective while using the safest chemical ingredients. At present, more than 2,800 common household and other products carry the DfE Safer Product Label. This list of safer chemical ingredients will help product manufacturers identify chemicals that the DfE program has evaluated and identified as safer alternatives.  This list only includes chemicals in products that were voluntarily submitted for evaluation through the DfE Safer Product Labeling Program. There may be other chemicals not included in this list that are also safer. The list and additional information can be found at http://www.epa.gov/dfe/saferingredients.htm You can contact Bridget Williams in EPA’s DfE Program at 202-564-8558 or by email at williams.bridget@epa.gov for further information.

EPA to Post List of Chemicals Acceptable for DfE-labeled Products

Design for the Environment (DfE) / Green Chemistry:

EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) team announced today that, in September, it will post on the agency’s website a list of chemicals that are acceptable for use in DfE-labeled products.   Questions or comments about the proposal should be submitted to EPA by August 24, 2012.  The contact at DfE is Bridget Williams (williams.bridget@epa.gov).

As readers know, over the years many DfE stakeholders have requested that EPA issue a list of safer chemicals.  According to the agency’s press release, EPA’s intent is for the list to serve as a resource for product formulators and consumers, to increase understanding of the DfE Safer Product Labeling Program and the types of chemicals in DfE-labeled products.  The list is also intended to enhance the dialogue on safer chemicals and products.  

EPA is compiling its list from the ingredients in DfE-labeled products, as well as from chemicals eligible for use in labeled products – i.e., chemicals that meet the DfE criteria. The chemicals will be identified by their specific chemical name and Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) number and grouped by functional class—surfactants, solvents, etc. (chemicals with more than one common functionality may be listed in multiple classes).

A color code will appear next to each chemical to indicate its safer chemical status.  A green circle will appear next to chemicals that have met the DfE component-class criteria; a green/yellow square next to chemicals that have met the DfE criteria as adapted for their necessary functional characteristics, but are missing some experimental data on potential hazards; and a yellow triangle next to chemicals that have met the DfE criteria as adapted for their necessary functional characteristics, but have unresolved hazard profile issues.

No other information about the chemical—not its source, manufacturer, or use; association with a trade name product, percentages in formulation, etc.—will appear in the listing. EPA intends to include on this list the ingredients in third-party formulations sold by manufacturers to DfE participants, and will likewise not associate those ingredients with specific products. Also, no chemicals on the confidential portion of the Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory will be included in the listing.

According to the agency’s press release, the DfE list will complement the Green-Blue Institute’s CleanGredients database (www.cleangredients.org), which will continue to serve as a marketplace for chemicals that are acceptable for use in DfE-labeled products and provide trade name chemicals, physical-chemical and functional properties, hazard information, vendor contacts, and other information.

Cefic Reports on EU Chemical Industry Sustainability Initiatives

Sustainability:

The European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) published The Chemical Industry in Europe: Towards Sustainability on May 8. In the report, Cefic stresses the importance of applying sustainable chemistry to the entire product life cycle, beginning with consideration of raw material sourcing impacts, and including manufacturing, packaging, transport and distribution, sales and use, and post-use recovery or disposal. Towards Sustainability asserts that chemistry innovation is a catalyst for sustainable innovation in up- and downstream industries including consumer product sectors. In addition, the authors argue that “Industry’s ongoing focus on using renewable raw materials is helping identify new ways of protecting the environment.”

Towards Sustainability details chemical industry initiatives to reduce waste, drive down emissions, conserve resources, and improve energy efficiency. Major reductions in emissions purportedly have been achieved through optimizing production processes and implementing improved emission control technologies. Industry initiatives promote energy efficiency through the value chain. Many companies have applied new technologies and processes to use fewer raw materials and to reuse or recycle products in a closed loop system. In addition, reducing the amount of material in products without performance loss, down-gauging, has helped industry optimize resources. Also, partnerships throughout industry have turned waste into resources. According to the report, successes include:

  • an International Association for Soaps sustainability project which reduced water use during manufacture, emissions, packaging;
  • detergent manufacturers reduced the impact of shipping by reducing chemicals, packaging and energy used in product manufacturing;
  • excess heat and CO2 from fertilizer manufactures pumped to local greenhouses;
  • glucose-containing effluent generated by a one producer is used by a nearby chemical complex to maintain bacteria levels in its biotreatment plant; and
  • a new abatement system at an ink manufacturer reduced emissions from the stream by 98 percent.

The industry has also published technical information on abatement and recovery options for solvent emissions.

Featured in the report is a case study on the relationship between new chemical industry products and development of a sustainable construction sector. For example, Cefic explains, plastic insulating materials save many times the amount of energy used in production. The materials are stable and durable, and unaffected by moisture, rotting, or mold. And plastic materials are easily and completely recyclable or recoverable.

Towards Sustainability stresses the importance of sustainability to corporate viability. The authors quote securities analyst statements, such as

“Investors are beginning to acknowledge the impact of sustainability topics on a company’s financial valuation. By adopting effective product life cycle assessment strategies chemical companies can realign their portfolios towards sustainable innovation and at the same time provide financial investors with increased transparency about their commitment to sustainability.” Andrea Ricci , Equity Analyst -Sustainable Asset Management

The report also highlights Cefic members’ efforts to enhance chemicals management throughout the supply chain. Activities include:

  • an effort in the polyvinyl chloride industry to improve behavioral safety;
  • outreach by the solvents sector on safe working practices;
  • safe handling cyanides through the entire value chain; and
  • best practices outreach by the formaldehyde industry.

Towards Sustainability also reports that industry is working with academia, regulators and NGOs to identify alternatives to the use of animal testing. Cefic is a founding member of the European Platform for Alternatives to Animal Testing which focuses on meeting safety requirements while also reducing the use of and replacing animal testing.

Towards Sustainability can be downloaded from Cefic’s website.

Environmental Advocates Want Disclosure of Chemicals in Consumer Products

Chemicals in Consumer Products:

Researchers at the Silent Spring Institute argue that the findings of their consumer product evaluation illustrate the need for full disclosure of ingredient information. The Institute tested consumer products — ranging from toothpaste to laundry detergent — for compounds identified as either endocrine disruptors or asthma-related. Most products evaluated by the Institute included one or more “chemicals of concern.”  In their report, the researchers emphasize that current chemical testing and product labeling requirements do not prevent the use of hormone disruptors or asthma-associated chemicals in products or provide enough information for consumers to avoid them. Silent Springs published its findings in the March 8, 2012 issue of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ Environmental Health Perspectives.  The report has proven highly controversial and been severely criticized by industry for a flawed methodology and equating the mere presence of a chemical in a product with a lack of product safety.

The Institute, and other environmental and public health advocates, clearly plan to use the report to support their arguments for robust reforming of TSCA, the primary federal statute for regulating chemicals in the United States.  Such advocates argue that many consumer products contain chemicals known to adversely affect human health. They note that for numerous common commercial chemicals, information about their presence in consumer products is limited. In particular, little information is available about hazardous chemical exposures from personal care and cleaning products.

The Institute found 55 chemicals of concern in conventional and “green” consumer products. The evaluation assessed consumer products for the presence of 66 known endocrine disruptors and asthma causing chemicals. Tested consumer products ranged from toothpaste to laundry detergent. The researchers found bis-2-ethylhexyl phthalate, diethanolamine, and glycol ethers in high concentrations. They found phthalates, monoethanolamine, alkylphenols, parabens, and cyclosiloxanes in many of the products.  Sunscreens and scented products such as air fresheners and dryer sheets contained both the largest number of target chemicals and some of the highest chemical concentrations. However, the Institute did not report whether these chemicals were present above limits setting safe levels of exposure.  For example, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends diethanolamine exposure be limited to 3 parts per million.

The researchers allege that regulations require only limited product labeling, thereby limiting the information available to consumers.  Personal products such as sunscreens, deodorants, and anti-bacterial hand soaps are largely regulated as over-the-counter drugs by the FDA. FDA regulations mandate only that “active” ingredients be identified on product labels.  The Institute asserts that EPA has primary regulatory oversight of cleaning products, and only when these products are pesticide products (e.g., products that will kill bacteria and viruses) is active ingredient labeling required. Many consumer products call themselves “natural,” “non-toxic,” and “green;” however, the Institute contends that these terms are unregulated and the chemical contents of such products do not necessarily differ from comparable products.

The Institute also argues that gaps in ingredient information are also problematic for regulators.  It argues that EPA, for example, relies on ingredient concentrations in products for exposure modeling. 

And lastly, the researchers conclude that further study of the risks posed by the types of chemical mixtures that are found in personal care products, cleaning products, etc. are needed to understand their effects on human health.

US News, Forbes, Consumer Reports, and many other news outlets have published stories on this report.

California DTSC Releases Public Comments on Informal Draft Green Chemistry Regulations

Green Chemistry Regulations:

The public comment for the latest informal draft version of California’s “Safer Consumer Product Regulations” closed on December 30, 2011.   On January 20, 2012, the implementing agency, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), posted the comments on its website.  DTSC received ninety submissions from a range of stakeholder interests.  More information about the regulations is available here.

US EPA and California DTSC Form Green Chemistry Partnership

Sustainable Products/Green Chemistry:

On January 12, 2012, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced their Green Chemistry Partnership.  The agencies’ agreement is memorialized in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines principles by which the agencies will cooperate to reduce toxic chemicals in consumer products, create new business opportunities in the emerging safer consumer products economy, and reduce the burden on consumers and businesses struggling to identify what’s in the products they buy for their families and customers.

The agrement supposedly will allow DTSC and EPA to minimize duplication of effort and promote consistency in their assessment methodologies, potentially providing increased environmental protection. The agreement sets up a framework for the agencies to collaborate on Green Chemistry issues so that California’s innovative “Green Chemistry” program can grow.

Jim Jones, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention said:  “This partnership will build and harmonize common tools and practices used to conduct alternative assessments to promote safer products ….  These alternative assessments inform and speed the adoption of safer chemicals for use in products, homes, schools, and workplaces, which produce significant environmental and economic benefits.”

In its press release, EPA said:  “The agreement represents a major advance for Californians looking to buy safer children’s toys, personal care products, household cleaners and other products. By shifting the question of an ingredient’s toxicity to the product development stage, concerns raised by … consumers can be addressed early on. The approach results in safer ingredients, and provides an opportunity for California industry to once again demonstrate its innovative spirit by making products that meet consumer demand throughout the world.”

EPA and DTSC signed the agreement in a ceremony at California’s Kaiser Permanente Sidney R. Garfield Health Care Innovation Center in San Leandro. Kaiser Permanente is nationally recognized as an industry leader in safer products, using its purchasing power and a sustainability scorecard to press suppliers for safer chemicals in medical products. 

Phil Moffat Will Participate on ABA Panel Concerning California's Green Chemistry Regulations

Green Chemistry Regulations:

Verdant is pleased to announce that Philip Moffat will participate on a “quick teleconference” program sponsored by the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, titled California Dreaming, Reality, or Nightmare?  California’s New Paradigm in Chemicals and Products Regulation Is Coming to a Store Near You.”  The December 13, 2011, teleconference will discuss the substantially revised regulations recently proposed by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to implement AB 1879, a new California Green Chemistry Initiative law designed to “accelerate the quest for safer products” in the state.  In addition to discussing the law’s requirements and its implementation, the teleconference will provide both industry and public health perspectives. 

Other speakers include:

  • Philip Crowley, Assistant General Counsel, Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, NJ
  • Dr. Joseph Guth, UC Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry; and the Science and Environmental Health Network, Berkeley, CA
  • Dr. Jeff Wong, Chief Scientist, DTSC, Sacramento, CA
  • Ann Grimaldi, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, San Francisco, CA

There are two ways to participate in this program, either attending a host site location or individual dial-in.  Participation at a host site location is free of charge for ABA members, and $110 for non-members.  Registration with the host site contact is required, however.  The host sites are:

  • San Francisco, CA
    McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, 101 California St., # 41
    RSVP: Cynthia Kelly, (415) 267-4051 or ckelly@mckennalong.com
  • Washington, DC
    McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, 1900 K Street, NW
    RSVP: Debbie Leitner, (202) 496-7372, dleitner@mckennalong.com

The teleconference will begin promptly at 1:00 pm EasternTime, Tuesday, December 13, 2011, and last for 105 minutes.

  • 1:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time / 12:00 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Central Time
  • 11:00 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Mountain Time / 10:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Pacific Time

Additional information about the teleconference is available here.

Reminder: Upcoming Meeting of California's Green Ribbon Science Panel

Green Chemistry Regulations:

California’s Green Ribbon Science Panel (GRSP), the expert body established to advise the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) on green chemistry and the regulation of consumer products, will convene in Sacramento on November 14 (all day) and 15 (morning only) to discuss the latest informal draft of the so-called Safer Consumer Product Alternatives (SCPA) Regulations.  No agenda or other meeting materials have been publicly released at this time, but a copy of the informal draft regulations and related information is available here.

California Releases Informal Draft of the Revised Green Chemistry Regulations

Green Chemistry Regulations:

On Monday, October 31, 2011, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) released an informal draft of its revised green chemistry regulations, the so-called “Safer Consumer Product Alternatives (SCPA) Regulations.”  DTSC spent the last year further revising the regulations after some stakeholders decried the proposed final version released for public comment over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2010.  Public comments on the lastest informal draft are due by December 30, 2011.  The formal rulemaking process will begin in 2012.

On Monday DTSC also released a document setting out the most significant changes from the November 2010 version of the regulations. (For purposes of comparison, a summary of the November 2010 version is available here.)  It is clear that DTSC is envisioning a more robust program with shorter timelines and fewer exemptions, ultimately requiring more agency and private resources to implement without a clear benefit from doing so. In light of the poor state of California’s economy, and the relative weakness of the U.S. economy as a whole, one has to wonder why DTSC has chosen its proposed path. According to DTSC, the following are the most significant changes found in the current informal draft. 

Timeframes

(1) Many timeframes have been shortened and/or made more specific.

(2) Timing of initial Chemicals of Concern (COC) list — effective date of the regulations.

(3) Timing of initial Priority Products list — 6 months for the proposed list.

(4) Both the chemicals and products lists will be reviewed at least once every 3 years.

Chemical / Product Prioritization

(1) The regulations will establish an immediate robust (~3,000) list of COCs (which DTSC can add onto later), based on work already done by numerous authoritative bodies.

 (2) The list of hazard traits has been expanded to include all hazard traits and environmental and toxicological endpoints specified by OEHHA. Additionally, the universe of chemicals considered to be carcinogens and reproductive toxins is no longer limited to only those chemicals listed on a short list of lists.

(3) The regulations no longer limit the product categories that DTSC can consider when listing Priority Products during the first 5 years.

(4) Worker exposure has been added as a prioritization factor.

(5) The requirement for responsible entities to provide chemical and product information during the prioritization process has been eliminated. (DTSC will request this information and list anyone who does not provide the information on a Failure to Respond list.)

Alternatives Assessments

(1) The regulations expand the primary responsibility for compliance beyond the product producer to also include: (i) the person who controls the product design; and (ii) the U.S. importer.

(2) The alternatives assessment (AA) process is more specific and structured, but allows for flexibility.

(3) There is no requirement to fill information gaps during the AA — instead DTSC has the option to require this as a regulatory response.

(4) The third-party verification requirement for AAs has been eliminated — instead AAs are required to be conducted by a certified assessor. Also, DTSC will play a greater role in auditing AAs.

Exemptions

(1) The default de minimis level is 0.01% for chemicals with one of 9 specified hazard traits, and 0.1% for all other chemicals — DTSC can set a lower or higher de minimis level.

(2) The exemption for unintentionally-added chemicals has been eliminated. However, these chemicals are a consideration for setting a higher de minimis level.

(3) The “no exposure pathway” exemption has been eliminated. However, exposure potential will still be considered during the chemical/product prioritization process.

Readers wanting more information should check back for future posts on this development, as well as visit the DTSC website. In addition, there will be a public workshop on the draft proposal on December 5, 2011 from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm in Sacramento. The Green Ribbon Science Panel also will dicuss the proposal at the Panel’s meeting on November 14 – 15, also in Sacramento.        

Phil Moffat Will Speak About Green Marketing at the 2011 ASC Fall Conference and Expo

Green Marketing:

Verdant is pleased to announce that Philip Moffat will speak at the 2011 ASC Fall Conference and Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana on October 16 – 18.  Phil will discuss marketing and enforcement trends, the tools available to regulate green marketing in the U.S. and elsewhere, and the legal risks attending the marketing of “sustainable” packaging or other “green” products for which universally accepted metrics and definitions are lacking.  

More information about the Fall Conference and Expo is available here.  A copy of the presentation is available here.