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California Considering Restrictions on Nail Products Containing Toluene

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control is proposing to list nail products containing toluene as a priority product under its Safer Consumer Products programme. If this proposal is adopted, manufacturers would be required to look for alternatives to this chemical if they want to continue serving the California market.

DTSC states that toluene is a solvent that can be harmful to people who breathe in its fume. Extended exposure has been linked to nervous system damage and harm to the respiratory tract. Moreover, exposure to this chemical in the workplace has been associated with developmental effects, such as increased risk of low birthweight. DTSC believes nail salon workers are particularly at risk because they may be exposed to the chemical from multiple products over long work hours, sometimes in small, poorly ventilated workspaces. According to the agency, studies show that toluene has been detected in nail salons at levels above California regulatory standards.

The Safer Consumer Products regulations require responsible entities (manufacturers, importers, assemblers and retailers) to notify DTSC when their product is listed as a priority product. Manufacturers or other responsible entities of products listed as priority products are required to perform an “alternatives analysis” for the product and the chemicals of concern in that product to determine how best to limit exposures or the level of adverse public health and environmental impacts posed by the chemicals of concern. DTSC is also required to identify and require implementation of regulatory responses to protect public health and/or the environment and maximise the use of acceptable and feasible alternatives of least concern.

DTSC has the authority to require regulatory responses for a priority product (if the manufacturer decides to retain the priority product) or for an alternative product selected to replace the priority product. This may include ordering the removal or replacement of the chemical of concern in the product or the removal of the product from the California marketplace. To date, children’s foam-padded sleeping products containing tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCPP) or tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP) and paint or varnish strippers containing methylene chloride have been listed as priority products, while the listing of spray polyurethane foam systems with unreacted methylene diphenyl diisocyanates is currently under consideration.

As a first step toward listing nail products containing toluene as a priority product, DTSC has released a draft technical report that outlines the scientific basis for the proposal. The agency will hold a public workshop on the matter on 13 March and accept input from interested parties through 15 March.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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