Chemical Risk Management: San Francisco Style

From the San Francisco Chronical: - "Starting Dec. 1, a first-in-the-nation ban goes into effect in San Francisco, prohibiting the sale, distribution and manufacture of baby products containing any level of bisphenol A and certain levels of phthalates". This small excerpt is from a lengthy feature article which is best read in totality. Here's our two-cents about the policy issues that flow from the ban. Rule: when the US Government abdicates it's traditional role of negotiated rule making on difficult issues, whether it's on managing climate risk or for hazardous chemical exposure control, the predetermined outcome is always the same: state and municipal governments step in to fill the vacuum. (This time it's a global abdication, as it was the European Union which first acted on the referenced issues.) At first it's an ordinance here and a law there; but, it can replicate rapidly, resulting in an impossible mixture of standards. Once the snowball rolls, it's difficult, almost impossible, for industry lobbyists to keep up, which eventually leads to calls to Washington DC with "you gotta do something"-type requests. 'Hello is this Ms Boxer's office?'The threat of a regulatory spaghetti-fest spanning the nation explains why San Francisco's ordinance is already being challenged. "Toymakers and companies affected by the ban have sued to block enforcement of the San Francisco law, saying their products have been used safely for decades. A January hearing is scheduled. If the courts uphold the measure, most companies say they'll comply with the ban even though they believe it's unnecessary".

Something to keep in mind. There's more than one way to flex a rubber ducky. Toys and containers containing the referenced materials are made in many places, from here to China, under a wide variety of composition specs. This partly explains the wide variation in sampling results.

As we said earlier, this particular ordinance follows on European efforts, a process which is also underway in the private sector. We expect a lot more of this to happen unless EPA is rejuvinated and put back on its former mission.

Five six seven eight...who do we appreciate, making EPA promulgate?

Tags: San Francisco | Toys

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