California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed two bills into law that will give state regulators broad authority to identify, evaluate and, if necessary, ban potentially harmful industrial chemicals.
A.B. 1879 and S.B. 509 establish the framework for a comprehensive "green chemistry" program to reduce or eliminate toxic substances in consumer products and the environment. A.B. 1879 gives the California Department of Toxic Substances Control authority, for the first time, to regulate chemicals in consumer products. The department has until January 1, 2011 to develop a science-based program to identify and prioritize chemicals of concern and analyze alternatives to the chemicals. The bill also requires the establishment of a Green Ribbon Science Panel to advise the department.
The companion bill S.B. 509 requires establishment of an online Toxics Information Clearinghouse to increase consumer knowledge about the toxicity and hazards of everyday chemicals. It also requires the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to develop, through a public process, hazard traits and environmental and toxicological endpoints for the clearinghouse.