California Green Chemistry Initiative to Improve Consumer Safety

Consumer products of all kinds will be safer because of the California Green Chemistry Initiative. Photo: Joe Hennager

Maziar Movassaghi, acting director of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), is determined to provide the United States with safer consumer products.

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“More and more consumer goods are recalled lately because of the chemicals they contain,” Movassaghi said in a phone interview with Blue Planet Green Living.

Consumer products manufacturers will be required to “show they’re not using harmful ingredients, or face restrictions including a possible ban on selling those products,” according to a press release from Movassaghi’s office.

The DTSC took a step forward last month when they released a draft regulation that outlines a process for designing safer products. It is one of six planks of the California Green Chemistry Initiative, signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008.

Products of concern will be objectively and systematically prioritized based on factors like type of consumer and frequency of use. The DTSC will create a list of harmful chemicals. Then, they will require manufacturers to perform an “alternatives assessment” to determine if there are viable safer options.

Are the products you buy safe? Photo: Joe Hennager

“We want to tap into the innovation of American businesses,” said Movassaghi, “Green products are one of the fastest-growing, most profitable lines.”

Movassaghi is confident that American businesses are capable of redesigning their products to be safer. In fact, he points out, big companies like Clorox, Apple, and HP have already made great advances. Even pharmaceutical giant Pfizer started an annual green chemistry competition.

“Plus, green upstart companies, like Method and Seventh Generation, are really taking off,” Movassaghi said. “They almost can’t even be called upstarts anymore.”

Movassaghi told Blue Planet Green Living that he especially appreciates these environmentally conscious companies because even large corporations have had products recalled due to dangerous chemicals. For example, last month, McDonald’s Shrek drinking glasses were found to be tainted with cadmium.

“Twenty years ago, we didn’t know what dangerous chemicals were,” Movassaghi said. “But science has started to understand more and more, and our knowledge has expanded.”

Movassaghi thinks it’s time to take the approach still further. “Our approach is to identify solutions to the problem, not just identify the concern,” he said. “What we’re doing is unique and paradigm-shifting.”

Brigette Fanning
Contributing Writer
Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

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