Laws & Regulation

From dry cleaning chemicals, to pesticides, to chemicals-of-concern used in consumer products, STPP has taken an active role at the regional, state, and federal level to promote a paradigm shift in legislation and regulation – from risk management policies that allowed the continued use of chemical hazards to risk prevention which promotes the development and diffusion of safer substitutes. STPP faculty and staff have written and spoken extensively on the design and implementation of a variety of policy tools intended to implement this new paradigm "on the ground," including management-based regulation, inherently safer design and alternatives analysis.

Chemical Policy Reform

While the 1972 federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was the first law designed to comprehensively identify hazardous chemicals and promote safer substitutes, implementation of TSCA has failed. Nearly 40 years later, new legislation has been introduced to more effectively promote the use of safer alternatives. STPP is engaged in the issue, developing the intellectual underpinning to chemical reform through publications, commentary, providing direct input to legislative staff and stakeholders, and participating in structured discussions. One example of the latter is STPP Faculty Co-Director Timothy Malloy's involvement in the National Conversation on Public Health and Chemical Exposures sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. STPP affiliated faculty member, Dr. Richard Jackson, also participates in that effort, serving as the chair of the Policy and Practices workgroup.

In 2008, California enacted a landmark statute – the “Safer Consumer Product Alternatives Act” (AB 1879). –which requires the use of alternatives analysis to identify viable substitutes for safer substitutes for consumer products containing chemicals-of-concern and provides authority of phase out hazardous products. STPP is assisting in effective implementation of this legislation through its work with non-profits, policymakers, and business groups. For example, STPP Faculty Co-Director Timothy Malloy serves on the Green Ribbon Science Panel established under the legislation to provide the Department of Toxic Substance Control with advice in executing the law. Further, STPP developed a white paper articulating clear principles and practices for implementing AB 1879, and has been engaging in dialogues with business leaders, policy makers and environmental groups. Likewise, STPP Faculty Co-Director Dr. John Froines led a series of workshops on hazard traits to assist government scientists in developing the Toxic Information Clearinghouse, required under a companion law (SB 509.) enacted with AB 1879.

Alternatives Analysis Methodology Development AB 1879 makes alternatives analysis—a scientific method for prioritizing a different course of action, in this case by assessing and evaluating the viability of safe substitutes for existing products or processes that use hazardous materials—the focus of a new regulatory program designed to reduce or eliminate chemical hazards in consumer products. Despite a central role that alternatives analysis plays in AB 1879, according to the new report, "Developing Regulatory Alternatives Analysis Methodologies for the California Green Chemistry Initiative,” the methodology is not well-developed or tailored to use in the regulatory setting. Using two case studies, one on garment cleaning solvents and the other on alternatives to lead solder in electronics, the report authors developed and evaluated a workable, rigorous and comprehensive alternatives analysis model as well as supporting decision-analysis software for use in a regulatory context.

Garment Care The risk prevention approach promoted by STPP is best exemplified by the work STPP has done in phasing out hazardous chemicals in dry cleaning. Perchloroethylene (PCE), the chemical used by the vast majority of dry cleaners in the United States, has become one of the most highly regulated chemicals – regulated as a hazard in the air, water, soil, and the workplace. STPP’s Executive Director, Dr. Peter Sinsheimer, was the first to systematically evaluate the viability of non-toxic alternatives to PCE in the garment care industry, and worked with a range of stakeholders (including government agencies, environmental NGOs, manufacturers, and cleaners) to successfully bring about the first large-scale phase out of PCE-dry cleaning – first in the greater Los Angeles region and then in California – as well as promote the diffusion of environmentally-benign alternatives.

Nanotechnology STPP’s work on nanotechnology policy likewise illustrates the value of directly connecting university-based researchers with stakeholders outside the academic setting. STPP faculty and graduate students are assisting California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control in evaluating the department’s information call-in process for nanomaterials manuafactured in the state. They are also developing a screening methodology for DTSC to assist in identifying those nanomaterials of greatest regulatory concern. STPP is also providing support to environmental groups in evaluating the usefulness of information disclosure as a method for regulating nanomaterials, and have participated in discussions with legislators on that topic as well.

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