Archive/Subscribe | June 4, 2014

SPFA Testifies at All Three Recent California DTSC Public Workshops

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The Department initiated a new regulatory process in March 2014 under the new California Green Chemistry Initiative and the Safer Consumer Products law. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) reviewed over 1,500 products and constituent materials and selected a three initial priority products to work with. Spray polyurethane foam, or more specifically "Unreacted Diisocyanates in SPF" was one of the products selected. SPFA and the SPF industry have reached out to DTSC on many occasions to better understand the process of selection and what the Department is expecting from industry. SPFA and the American Chemistry Council have contended from the moment of the announcement that no outreach was performed by the Department to the industry. SPFA further contends that this lack of outreach resulted in a failed selection process that still lacks open explanation, in critical misunderstanding of SPF systems among the Department staff, erroneous conclusions drawn from cited research studies, lack of citations to studies such as those published from the US government’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) and California’s own Department of Health that directly conflict with the DTSC’s basis for determination, likely duplication around Isocyanates programs already ongoing, such as the EPA’s Chemical Action Plan (CAP) on Isocyanates, and OSHA’s National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Isocyanates (in which CalOSHA participates), and a published Priority Product Profile available on the DTSC’s website still today that delivers factually incorrect information.  

"Members have indicated in public testimony that the Department’s mishandling of the process and information, and resulting perception among customers of uncertainty for the product’s future in California, have resulted in immediate material negative impact to their businesses. Manufacturers have reported hearing questions regarding DTSC action in states as far away as New York and Texas thanks to the mainstream media’s coverage of this debacle. And the homebuilding industry in California, a big proponent of SPF, suggests that their advanced purchasing decisions have been thrown into uncertainty because of the confusion around SPF resulting from DTSC’s handling, just at the time when preparations are being made to comply with 2016 high efficiency Title 24 California energy codes," said SPFA Executive Director Kurt Riesenberg. "It’s like being locked in a house with both the heat and air conditioning running at the same time, when these different state agencies are actually working against each other’s internal interests."

The DTSC has listened to the concerns of the industry, but have provided little remedy in the way of correcting bad information on their website. SPFA, the American Chemistry Council, and a team of members spent almost an entire day with DTSC staff after the announcement educating them on SPF topics in the hopes of addressing concerns from an informed standpoint.  "What is really unfortunate," continued Riesenberg, "is what we’ve said all along: this could have all been avoided if they had just asked us some questions before they surprised everyone with the announcement."  SPFA has formally requested within the DTSC public workshops that the erroneous information contained in the Priority Product Profile document be removed from the DTSC website until corrections can be made, to avoid the continued spread of incorrect information. To date, DTSC has added a disclaimer within the document. SPFA and the California members anticipate working with DTSC and other state interests as this regulatory process continues unabated toward the next steps, including potential alternative assessments for SPF.

"While we are certain the DTSC is well intentioned in pursuing this new regulatory path available to them in California for the health, safety and well-being of their constituents, the guinea pig nature of our involvement and the complete failings we have seen to date by the state leave us with these unfortunate and serious allegations," said Riesenberg.  "It is very difficult to accept the time, expense and ill-defined expectations of an alternative assessment when the process that led us to this point has been wrong, period."
For more details click here. For the full SPFA statement, click here.

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