Andy Igrejas, manager of The Pew Charitable Trusts' Environmental Health Campaign, today issued the following statement in response to the "Green Chemistry" package passed by the California legislature. Governor Schwarzenegger had negotiated the language in the bills and is expected to sign them.
"California's new 'Green Chemistry' package marks a milestone in state action on unsafe chemicals. California is taking a great step by moving away from responding to the 'chemical-danger-of-the-week' and taking a more comprehensive approach designed to fix the broken system of consumer protections.
"This legislation does not go as far as the proposed federal-level Kid-Safe Chemical Act. For example, it allows too much information to be classified as trade secrets, making the process less transparent for the public. However, California has acted significantly to protect the public health by passing a measure that Europe already has in place and that Congress needs to adopt. It represents important progress in the growing political effort to better protect consumers from unsafe chemicals.
"California has recognized that the chemicals in toys and baby bottles that have made recent headlines -- including phthalates and Bisphenol A -- are symptoms of a deeper problem that cannot be ignored. Congress should follow a similar path and follow up their achievements this year on phthalates and toys with the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act. That bill would force the development and disclosure of health and safety information for all chemicals and require that protecting our children and other vulnerable groups be the highest priority."
The "Green Chemistry" package of bills will:
- Direct the California Environmental Protection Agency to develop a process for reviewing industrial chemicals and ensuring they are used safely;
- Direct Cal/EPA to use the health and safety information being developed by chemical companies to comply with new safety regulations in Europe; and
- Direct the agency to ensure that the new process addresses children's special vulnerability to chemicals and that chemicals be evaluated for their impacts throughout a child's life-cycle.
Pew's Health and Human Services program aims to improve the health and well-being of all Americans with practical policy solutions developed through rigorous research and analysis. In a policy environment that is often polarized, we seek consensus for fundamental, positive change.
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information visit the Environmental Health Project (Kid-Safe Chemicals) on PewHealth.org.