California’s Safer Consumer Product regulations, which implement the state’s “Green Chemistry” law, will take effect October 1, 2013. The regulations require manufacturers of widely used consumer products to seek safer alternatives to harmful chemical ingredients.

The regulations, which apply to consumer products in the California stream of commerce, establish a three-step process:

  1. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (“DTSC”) must identify “candidate” chemicals of concern and then identify “priority” products containing these candidate chemicals. Under the regulations, DTSC must propose an initial list of no more than five “priority” products by April 1, 2014. Over the next several years, DTSC will add additional “priority” products to the list.
  2. If you are a manufacturer or other responsible entity (such as an importer), you must notify DTSC if your product is on the list. Then you must analyze alternatives to eliminate or reduce exposure to the chemicals of concern in your “priority” products and submit a report to DTSC.
  3. DTSC will evaluate your report. The regulations identify a number of actions that DTSC can take depending on its evaluation of your report. For example, DTSC can require you to provide product information to consumers, restrict the use of the chemicals of concern or the product, or even prohibit the sale of the product in California.

The Green Chemistry regulations have the potential to affect a wide range of products, such as personal care, furniture, and high-tech products. The first priority products under consideration include nail polish, carpet adhesive made with formaldehyde, and fluorescent light bulbs containing mercury. If you are a manufacturer or retailer of consumer products in California, if will be important for you to keep track of whether the products that you make or sell contain “candidate” chemicals, and whether you make or sell any “priority” products.