I work on policy in a variety of contexts, from advising Cal/EPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control on the ground-breaking Safer Consumer Product Regulations as part of the legislatively created Green Ribbon Science Panel to implementing San Francisco’s pioneering Precautionary Principle ordinance. I work with the International POPS Elimination Network (IPEN) on chemicals nominated for addition to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants as well as the Chemicals in Products project that is part of SAICM, the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management. See below for details of current and past projects in this area.
Dr. Ann Blake has been reappointed to the Green Ribbon Science Panel, created by AB 1879, the statute that created the Safer Consumer Products program. The 2014 Green Ribbon Science Panel has 15 members consisting of reappointed members from the first Panel and new experts. This Green Ribbon Science Panel will continue to advise the Department on a variety of scientific and technical matters related to Green Chemistry. Some specific topical subjects will be related to aspects of the implementation of the Safer Consumer Product regulations.
On March 13, 2014, the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) issued a draft list of priority products for assessment under the Safer Consumer Products regulations. This is a significant milestone in the development of the ground-breaking regulations. The California Safer Consumer Products regulations are the first attempt anywhere in the world to lay out a process for assessing safer alternatives to identified products and chemicals of concern. I have had the distinct honor and pleasure of being part of this process as a member of the Green Ribbon Science Panel that continues to advise Cal EPA DTSC on the implementation of AB 1879 (2008), part of the California Green Chemistry Initiative.
The Priority Products and Candidate Chemicals:
- Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) Systems containing unreacted diisocyanates
- Children’s Foam Padded Sleeping Products containing Tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate or TDCPP
- Paint and Varnish Strippers, and Surface Cleaners with methylene chloride
Environmental health advocates such as the Environmental Working Group welcomed the announcement. “These are hazardous chemicals linked to cancer and asthma that should never have been allowed into products in the first place,” said Renee Sharp, EWG’s director of research. “It’s long overdue, but the state Department of Toxic Substances Control and Governor Brown deserve credit for beginning a process that we hope will identify safer alternatives, so California families will no longer be exposed to these and many other hazardous chemicals.” Advocates also point out that more work is needed to move us to safer products: “California’s program is far smaller than it should be and is able to tackle only a very small number of products and chemicals. We need more resources to go to the state Department of Toxic Substances Control so it can expand the program, and we need true chemical policy reform at the federal level to fix this mess that puts each and every American at risk.”
The American Chemistry Council has not yet commented on this development in California, and heated discussions on the reform of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act continue in Washington D.C.
Use of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis in Regulatory Alternatives Analysis: A Case Study of Lead-Free Solder
Regulators are implementing new programs that require manufacturers of products containing certain chemicals of concern to identify, evaluate and adopt viable, safer alternatives. Such programs raise the difficult question for policymakers and regulated businesses of which alternatives are “viable” and “safer.” To address that question, these programs use “alternatives analysis,” an emerging methodology that integrates issues of human health and environmental effects with technical feasibility and economic impact. Despite the central role that alternatives analysis plays in these programs, the methodology itself is neither well-developed nor tailored to application in regulatory settings. This study uses the case of lead-based bar solder and its non-lead based alternatives to examine the application of two multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) methods to alternatives analysis: multi-attribute utility analysis and outranking. It develops and evaluates an alternatives analysis methodology and supporting decision-analysis software for use in a regulatory context, using weighting of the relevant decision criteria generated from a stakeholder elicitation process. The analysis produced complete rankings of the alternatives, including identification of the relative contribution to the ranking of each of the highest level decision criteria such as human health impacts, technical feasibility and economic feasibility. It also examined the effect of variation in data conventions, weighting, and decision frameworks on the outcome. The results indicate that MCDA can play a critical role in emerging prevention-based regulatory programs. MCDA methods offer a means for transparent, objective and rigorous analysis of products and processes, providing regulators and stakeholders with a common baseline understanding of the relative performance of alternatives and the trade-offs they present. Integr Environ Assess Manag © 2013 SETAC
Accepted for publication in Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, May 23, 2013 DOI: 10.1002/ieam.1449
- Timothy F. Malloy1,*, Peter J. Sinsheimer2, Ann Blake3, Igor Linkov4,5
GreenBiz.Com’s The Right Chemistry Blog: California’s Safer Consumer Product Regulations and B Corps
I was recently invited to write for GreenBiz.com’s The Right Chemistry Blog. I chose to focus on the economic opportunity for California inherent in the Safer Consumer Product regulations. Check it out here.
Why California is leading the way on chemical policy reform
California is in the last stages of promulgatinggroundbreaking regulations that will require manufacturers to seek safer alternatives to potentially harmful chemicals in consumer products. These regulations come after four years of animated discussion and unprecedented input, extending to thousands of comments submitted by a broad range of stakeholders.
As the regulations come closer to fruition, however, the standard arguments are surfacing about their potential impact on the state’s economy, including comparisons to the economic impacts of the European Union’s REACH chemical regulation, which came into effect in June 2007.
It is therefore probably worth noting that no less an entity than German chemical giant BASF stated in September of this year that REACH was “worth the money.” In the same report, CEFIC, the European Chemical Industry Council, stated that while it is too early to see any impact on innovation, it expects that REACH “will indeed benefit human health and the environment.”
More importantly, however, it behooves us to remember at this juncture why California, other states such as Maine and Washington, and a sizeable national and global movement are pushing for chemicals policy reform. The externalized costs to society of chemical use are large and growing. On the flip side, the potential to grow a green economy is already here; one example is B or Benefit corporations. B Corps are a new type of corporation which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. More on that shortly.
The Costs of Chemical Exposure
It has been difficult, at best, to put hard numbers on the externalized costs to society of human health and environmental impacts of industrial chemical use. Clearly this is another data gap we need to start to fill; our best data are at least a decade old. However, even conservative estimates of disease burden and costs based on a handful of diseases with clear linkages to environmental exposures are already in the billions of dollars. Overall estimated costs of exposure to toxic substances in 2001 were estimated at $568 billion to $793 billion per year for Canada and the United States combined. As a contextual reminder, California constitutes 13 percent of the U.S. economy.
Next page: The top public health concerns of our time
If that isn’t enough to give you pause, consider this: Environmental exposures to chemicals have been highlighted as contributing factors in the top public health concerns of our time, including obesity, heart disease, infertility and childhood developmental problems. A few of these are highlighted below.
- The World Health Organization estimates that globally 44 percent of asthma, 16 percent of cardiovascular disease and 19 percent of all cancers can be attributed to environmental exposures.
- The childhood prevalence of asthma more than doubled from 1980 to 1996, from 3.6 percent to 7.5 percent. While not all exposures result from chemicals in consumer products, in Nov. 2011,California’s Department of Public Health highlighted recent research that links asthma with exposure to cleaning products, and other literature clearly links asthma and other diseases to consumer product exposure.
- In 2008 estimated national annual costs were $76.6 billion for lead poisoning, prenatal methyl mercury exposure, childhood cancer, asthma, intellectual disability, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Incidence of childhood cancers increased by 28 percent from 1974 to 1998, a span of 25 years, especially acute lymphoblastic leukemia, central nervous system tumors and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The good news is environmental exposures to chemicals are the public-health factor about which we can actually do something in fairly short order. Regulations are one part of the strategy, creating a backstop for the worst impacts. As it turns out, they’re a good investment. In 2011 the Federal Office of Management and Budget submitted a regular report to Congress that estimated that investment in health, safety and environmental regulations in the last decade has yielded a return on investment of 300-700 percent. The costs associated with those regulations were in the $44 to 63 billion range and benefits at federal, state, local and tribal levels estimated at $132 to $655 billion.
Building a Sustainable Economic Engine for California
Another part of the strategy comes from the marketplace. In Oct. 2011, Governor Brown signed B or benefit corporation legislation in California. Two hundred of the more than 600 existing B Corporations are located in California. Questions around disclosure of chemicals in a product’s life cycle are being incorporated into the latest version of the B Impact Assessment, but B Corps and other companies have already created profitable businesses without chemicals of concern.
These include nationally known consumer product companies such as Badger Balm and Seventh Generation in Vermont, and EO Products, Method and Elemental Herbs in California. California-based B Corp apparel companies include Clary Sage Organics, Indigenous Designs, and Oaklandish. B Corps span the consumer product market, from paper supplier New Leaf Paper, to stainless steel water bottle purveyorKleen Kanteen, and provider of compostable products WorldCentric. Other California companies profiting from green chemistry were featured in Environment California’s 2010 report, Green Chemistry at Work.
Under current regulatory structures, innovative companies are often challenged to get their safer alternative products to market because existing regulations do not ask if a potentially hazardous chemical is necessaryin a consumer product or if there’s a better way to achieve the required performance. The California Safer Consumer Product regulations have the ability to send a clear signal to the market that there is a huge potential market in green chemistry in California.
Not only is it is possible, it is absolutely vital for us to build a new economy where goods and services that we all utilize can be provided by companies that are profitable while providing social and environmental good. California has led the country before, from environmental regulation and energy efficiency in the 1970s to entirely new sectors of the economy in the 1990s. We can do it again.
Photocollage by GreenBiz Group
On December 8, 2011, Dr. Ann Blake testified before the California Assembly’s Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee on California’s ground-breaking Safer Consumer Product Regulations. Here is a transcript of her testimony: Ann Blake_ESTM Safer Product Regulations Oversight Testimony 8 Dec 2011
It is with great pleasure that we learned today that Senator Michael Rubio, representing the California Senate’s District 16 in the heart of the Central Valley, has withdrawn his request to Governor Brown to delay California’s ground-breaking Safer Consumer Product Regulations.
A month ago, Senator Rubio requested the delay with an economic argument: “These regulations could affect nearly every product sold in the state of California – from cars and computers to shampoo and cleaning products- potentially impacting every manufacturer, business and consumer in California,” Rubio said in a prepared statement. “Particularly during these difficult economic times, it is critical that businesses have greater certainty about future regulatory conditions so that we will continue to encourage job growth in California.”
November 13, 2012
In a letter Friday to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, Rubio and six other lawmakers said they were satisfied with the department’s plan to study the law’s economic impact on regulated industries.
“We applaud your work on this important issue and look forward to working with you to protect all consumers in California, as well as our state’s economic future,” the letter said.
The state’s Green Chemistry initiative, passed by the Legislature in 2008, has been delayed about two years. Environmentalists say the initiative is important to protect the public and the environment from toxins, while critics fear its impact on business.
Rubio has had a difficult relationship with environmentalists, only exacerbated since Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, announced this fall that Rubio would be chairman of the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality. The Central Valley Democrat was behind a controversial, failed effort this year to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act.
Environmental & Public Health Consulting completed a report for the City and County of San Francisco’s Department of Environment on Pharmaceutical Takeback (January 2013). The report covers changes in the regulatory environment around residential pharmaceutical science, the latest research on the impacts of pharmaceutical residues in surface waters, and emerging issues in reverse logistics and incineration of pharmaceuticals collected from households. The report was an update to the report completed for the Department of Environment in 2004 by TDC Environmental.
March 16, 2012
A presentation to barangay leaders, Cebu City, Philippines, at the invitation of City Councilors Nida Cabrera and Alvin Dizon, and Mayor Mike Rama; sponsored by EcoWaste Coalition Manila
March 13, 2012
Presentation at the Department of Health, Food and Drug Administration, Republic of the Philippines, Alabang, Muntinlupa City, Philippines, on “Women, Cosmetics and Toxic Chemicals”, co-sponsored by EcoWaste Coalition, Manila
September 25, 2005
North American Hazardous Materials Managers Association National Meeting, Tacoma WA