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California Proposes to List Certain Paint/Varnish Strippers as Priority Product

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control will accept comments through 18 January 2018 on a proposal to designate paint or varnish strippers containing methylene chloride as a priority product under the Safer Consumer Products regulations. The regulations define a priority product as a consumer product that contains one or more chemicals that have a hazard trait that can harm people or the environment. Designation of these items as a priority product would impose certain reporting requirements as well as more stringent conditions on manufacturers, importers, assemblers and retailers of subject merchandise. DTSC will hold a public hearing on this proposal on 8 January 2018.

The proposal covers any product that is placed into commerce in California that contains methylene chloride (dichloromethane) and that may be marketed, sold or offered for sale as a chemical substance designed to break down paint, varnish or any other surface coating to facilitate its removal from any surface. Such products may be designed for indoor or outdoor use.

DTSC is proposing this action because there is potential for workers and consumers to be exposed to methylene chloride during the use of paint or varnish strippers and there is potential for one or more exposures to contribute to or cause significant adverse health impacts. Potential health effects include acute toxicity and death, carcinogenicity, skin irritation and central nervous system depression. DTSC based this determination on an evaluation of available, reliable scientific information pertinent to the regulatory criteria.

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, and DTSC will post that information on its Web site. Manufacturers or other responsible entities of products listed as priority products will be 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 will also have 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.

DTSC will only impose new regulatory requirements on product manufacturers if it finalises the draft list by adopting regulations. On 1 July 2017, children’s foam-padded sleeping products containing tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCPP) or tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP) were formally listed as a priority product. Accordingly, manufacturers who make this product had until 30 August 2017 to notify DTSC that they are a responsible entity. DTSC has also formally proposed to list as a priority product spray polyurethane foam systems with unreacted methylene diphenyl diisocyanates.

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