Safer Products

We are working toward Safer California households, workplaces and products

Priority Product Work Plan

This website provides introductory and background information for our Priority Product Work Plan (Work Plan), and affords access to our current Work Plan and to our previous Work Plans. 

What is the “Priority Product Workplan?”

We must prepare a Work Plan every three years that identifies and describes the specific product categories that we will evaluate in order to identify potential Priority Products containing a Chemical of Concern. We may only evaluate those product categories that are described in the Work Plan during the three-year period that the Work Plan is active (unless we are otherwise compelled by statute or executive order to evaluate additional products that are not described in the Work Plan, or unless we grant a petition to add a product to the Priority Product list). The Work Plan provides a general explanation of why the chosen product categories were selected for evaluation.

 

The Work Plan does not lay out a detailed schedule for evaluating products. Establishing and adhering to a rigid product evaluation schedule would severely constrain our ability to follow the findings of our research. We cannot know before-hand how long it may take to rigorously evaluate a given product. Therefore, instead of a definitive timeline for product evaluation, the Work Plan may provide general information regarding our planned goals for various implementation activities. For example, the Work Plan may highlight specific goals DTSC hopes to achieve and general milestones it hopes to meet during the period covered by the Work Plan. Omitting a more detailed and definitive timeline is essential to provide us with the flexibility necessary to meaningfully implement the Work Plan.

 

It is DTSC’s goal to describe each product category contained in the Work Plan in as clear and concise terms as possible, in order to provide clarity to the regulated community. Where feasible, DTSC relies on existing statutory or regulatory definitions to help describe product categories. The Work Plan only identifies product categories that DTSC may evaluate to select future Priority Products. The Work Plan does not identify any Priority Products, nor does it create any new regulatory requirements or legal obligations. Inclusion of a product category in the Work Plan does not imply that we have made any determination about the safety of products included in that category. Inclusion of a product category in the Work Plan also does not imply that we have decided to prohibit or restrict the sale of any product from that category.

What is the Safer Consumer Product Program?”

The Department of Toxic Substances Control’s (DTSC’s) SCP Program was created in the spring of 2013, five years after California’s green chemistry law was signed. The Safer Consumer Product (SCP) regulations implementing the green chemistry law were adopted on October 1, 2013. The SCP Program is responsible for implementing the SCP regulations.

 

The SCP regulations establish a four-step process for identifying specific consumer products that may harm people and environmental organisms by exposing them to harmful chemicals, and to encourage manufacturers to identify and systematically evaluate potentially safer alternatives to those chemicals. First, the regulations establish a list of potentially harmful Candidate Chemicals and specify a process for adding additional chemicals to that list. Second, the regulations require us to evaluate consumer products containing one or more of those Candidate Chemicals to identify Priority Products. Priority Products must then be added to the Priority Product List through rulemaking. In order to identify a product-chemical combination as a Priority Product, we must determine that they meet two key criteria:

 

  • There must be potential public and/or aquatic, avian, or terrestrial animal or plant organism exposure to the Candidate Chemical(s) in the product; and
  • There must be the potential for one or more exposures to contribute to or cause significant or widespread adverse impacts.

 

Third, all manufacturers of a Priority Product sold or offered for sale in California are required to identify and assess potentially safer alternatives to any Chemical of Concern used in their products through an Alternatives Analysis process. Finally, we may require a manufacturer of a Priority Product to implement one or more regulatory responses depending on the outcome of the Alternatives Analysis.

 

A regulatory response is one or more actions that manufacturers may be required to take in order to protect public health and/or the environment. The SCP regulations establish a range of possible regulatory responses that we may choose from. We are required to give preference to those regulatory responses that provide the greatest level of inherent protection.

How Does DTSC Evaluate Products to Identify Priority Products?

The SCP regulations specify a set of prioritization factors that DTSC must consider in determining if a given product-chemical combination meets the two key criteria that are required in order to be identified as a Priority Product. Although the SCP regulations provide a scientific basis for evaluating product-chemical combinations to determine if they meet these two key criteria, the regulatory framework is not based on quantitative risk assessment. Rather, the SCP regulations make clear that the ultimate selection of Priority Products is, fundamentally, a policy decision. A policy-driven approach to Priority Product selection is necessitated by the broad range of endpoints that DTSC may consider in deciding to list a Priority Product. Given the number of tradeoffs that may need to be considered, there is no meaningful way for DTSC to objectively determine that one product-chemical combination is “worse” than another, and DTSC does not attempt to arrive at such determinations. In addition to regulatory criteria, several policy considerations inform a decision by the SCP Program to prioritize a product-chemical combination for potential listing as a Priority Product and they include:

 

  • The strength of the “story”
    • Relative definitiveness of the science
    • A given chemical’s hazard traits
    • Potential severity of adverse impacts
    • The prevalence and pervasiveness of any potential adverse impacts

 

  • Other regulatory actions. The SCP Program endeavors to ensure that naming a Priority Product will “… meaningfully enhance protection of public health and/or the environment with respect to the potential adverse impacts, exposure pathways, and/or adverse waste and end-of-life effects that are the basis for the listing

 

  • Whether or not alternatives to the Chemical of Concern are already available
  • The magnitude of the impact that listing a Priority Product may have

How Can I learn more about the SCP Program Activities and the Products DTSC is evaluating? 

We are committed to transparency regarding our ongoing work. To that end, we have created a dashboard that is updated on a regular basis to provide the public with summaries of our major ongoing program activities. The SCP Program evaluates many products during the period covered by any given Work Plan.  For a variety of reasons we sometimes decide not to propose listing one or more of those products as a Priority Product. We provide access to documents that describe some of our product evaluation efforts and our rationale for not proposing to list these products as Priority Products.

 

We have always recognized the benefit of public engagement. In developing and implementing each Work Plan, we actively engage stakeholders. Stakeholder feedback helps shape each Work Plan, and builds on our previous Work Plans. We also routinely engage with stakeholders prior to proposing specific Priority Products. We host public workshops, issue background documents describing our interim findings, and solicit public comment. We will continue to actively engage stakeholders in the future as this engagement has proven to be a crucial part of our process. If you are interested in receiving email alerts and additional information related to our ongoing activities, you may sign up for our Safer Consumer Products and other E-lists via our DTSC E-lists website.

 

In implementing the Work Plan, we expect to engage in discussion with industry experts about product formulations, supply chain considerations, toxicology studies, and other topics. Through a variety of means, we may request specific information from manufacturers and their supply chain partners, trade associations, and others with relevant expertise. These may include informal requests information from specific industry sectors, public workshops, and public comment periods. DTSC may also issue more formal information call-ins, as described in section 69501.4(b)(2) of the SCP regulations. In keeping with our commitment to transparency, we will make as much of this information available to the public as possible and in a manner that is consistent with the confidential business and trade secret protections that are outlined in our regulations.

Final 2018-2020 Priority Product Work Plan

DTSC is pleased to announce that the Final 2018-2020 Priority Product Work Plan is now available. DTSC must issue a Work Plan every three years that identifies the product categories DTSC will evaluate during that three-year period to identify Priority Products. The Work Plan provides a general explanation of DTSC’s decision to select the product categories identified in the Work Plan.

View the Final 2018-2020 Priority Product Work Plan.

DTSC held a written comment period for the public to comment from February 12, 2018 until March 9, 2018. Comments regarding the Draft Work Plan can be reviewed on the CalSAFER site.

DTSC held a public workshop regarding the Draft Work Plan on February 26, 2018. The workshop was held in Sacramento, California and was open to the public. The purpose of the workshop was to provide the public with an opportunity to comment on the Work Plan.

Below are downloads related to this workshop:

View the 2015-2017 Priority Product Work Plan.

DTSC hosted a series of stakeholder engagement workshops for implementing the Work Plan. Visit our Workshops page to view the presentations and recordings. Sign up for our e-list to receive new program announcements.