Priority Products workshop: California's Safer Consumer Products program continues to develop.

Yesterday, California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) held the second of three public workshops on its initial Priority Products in Oakland. These workshops are being held to elicit feedback from stakeholders before the start of the formal rulemaking process, which is anticipated to begin in late June.

In his introductory presentation, DTSC Branch Chief of the Safer Consumer Products (SCP) program Karl Palmer explained that only three (instead of the possible five) Priority Products were initially chosen because the agency wanted to be deliberate, slow, accurate, and effective in rolling out the new SCP program. Palmer also noted that the agency was developing a new data system that may be available as soon as August, which would manage confidential business information (CBI) in submissions to the agency as well as rulemaking processes.

Agency staff explained various refinements that have been made since the first public workshop, focusing on revisions to the Priority Product profiles. Responding to industry comments, the profiles now contain a second-page “disclaimer” explaining that the profiles are non-regulatory documents showing a “snapshot in time” of the agency’s thinking, and are not meant to assert that certain products cannot be used safely, or to endorse alternatives. At the workshop, various commenters from the chemical industry continued to push back that the profile for Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) Systems contained inaccurate information and should require a more explicit disclaimer.

In addition to the profiles, product definitions have been revised on the program’s draft regulatory concepts [PDF]. Agency staff noted that, as shown in this document with strikeouts, the SPF definition was narrowed to focus only on applying unreacted diisocyanates to produce rigid foam. The regulatory concepts draft also updates the definition of paint strippers containing methylene chloride from the one contained in the Priority Product profile, now removing reference to surface cleaners, which are already barred from containing methylene chloride under the California Air Resources Board (CARB) General Consumer Products Regulation.

A general theme repeated throughout the workshop was that DTSC was eager to accept information from stakeholders, especially quantitative data on the products’ markets and supply chains, and the availability or viability of alternative products.

The third public workshop will take place on June 4 in Los Angeles. More information, including how to register to attend or file comments, is available on the Safer Consumer Products Workshops page. That page also links to various new documents, including presentations from the workshops. DTSC continues to accept comments on the Priority Products before rulemaking begins, through June 30.

Looking ahead, DTSC will release a three-year Work Plan and hold a public workshop on it in the late summer. The Work Plan, which should be finalized by October 1, 2014, will identify product categories the agency plans to consider next. Draft guidance on alternatives assessments, including input from the Green Ribbon Science Panel, is expected by the end of the year.