California Proposes Expanded “Hazzard Traits”

New California proposal for greatly expanded product “hazard traits” escalates risks for product manufacturers

In yet another dramatic step in California’s assertion of regulatory authority over product design in the name of “environmental safety,” product manufacturers selling into California may soon be facing increased risks resulting from new and expansive product “hazard traits” just proposed by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA).    

On December 17, 2010, OEHHA announced proposed rulemaking that would exponentially expand the hazard trait characteristics of product ingredients, which, in turn, would substantially increase the exposure of product manufacturers to California environmental regulations. While California’s existing Proposition 65 requires labels or consumer notification for products containing “carcinogens” or “reproductive toxins,” the new list of over 30-plus hazard traits will eventually be combined with the green chemistry regulations and their associated lists of chemicals and products of concerns to trigger data call-ins and potential regulatory actions such as bans, recalls of inventory, substitution of ingredients and end of life stewardship requirements, as well as labels under the green chemistry regulations.

Please click here to view Proposed New Hazard Traits.

The proposed rulemaking would add Chapter 54, “Green Chemistry Hazard Traits,” to the California Code of Regulations, which is complementary to California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) work on green chemistry. The chapter focuses on a “framework for organizing information on chemical hazards for use by the Department in implementing Health and Safety Code section 25251 et seq. The framework is organized around four major categories of hazard traits: toxicological, environmental, exposure potential and physical.” Environmental endpoints as defined by the rulemaking are “measured or otherwise observed adverse environmental effects in ecological systems, or in components of ecological systems, or in non-human organisms within ecological systems,” while toxicological endpoints are “for a specific hazard trait[,] . . . a measured or otherwise observed adverse effect in a biological system that indicates the presence of the hazard trait.”

Health and Safety Code section 25252 requires DTSC to evaluate and prioritize chemicals by developing criteria that include, but are not limited to, traits, characteristics and endpoints, developed by OEHHA, for the Toxics Information Clearinghouse established under Health and Safety Code section 25256.1. DTSC’s green chemistry “safer product alternative” regulations are expected to be adopted and in force in January 2011. When these OEHHA regulations are adopted later in 2011, they will supplement and expand the applicability of the DTSC regulations to include product ingredients exhibiting the entire list of hazard traits.

A public hearing will be held on January 31, 2011, at 10 a.m. in Sacramento. The written comment period for this rulemaking opens today and will conclude on February 15, 2011. A copy of the regulations may be viewed at http://www.oehha.ca.gov/multimedia/green/gc121710.html


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