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Comprehensive Evaluation of California's Green Chemistry Initiative Released

October 17, 2018

OAKLAND, Calif. – An extensive evaluation of the State of California's Green Chemistry Initiative (GCI) on its tenth anniversary has recognized its strengths and weaknesses, and makes ten recommendations for streamlining and improving the program. 

The research study, "California's Green Chemistry Initiative at Age 10:  An Evaluation of its Progress and Promise," was conducted under the auspices of the Public Health Institute with funding from the California Breast Cancer Research Program.

Principal author Gina M. Solomon, a physician at UCSF and Principal Investigator at the Public Health Institute, said, "California's Green Chemistry Initiative has pioneered an innovative approach to replacing toxic chemicals in consumer products with safer alternatives."  The major piece of the GCI is its Safer Consumer Products (SCP) program, run by CalEPA's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

At the same time, Dr. Solomon’s research showed that the GCI could and should take additional steps to improve the program's impact.  "The pace of implementation has been slow and DTSC has unclear authority to collect data on chemicals in products," she said. “The original vision to stimulate a robust and innovative environment for development of safer chemicals and products in California has not happened due to insufficient resources and incentives.”

The tenth anniversary of the GCI is an opportune moment to evaluate the program, according to Deborah O. Raphael, the Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment.  "This comprehensive review of the Green Chemistry Initiative is timely and demands our attention.  California can lead the world on consumer product safety, but this report shows that important changes are needed to strengthen and streamline the program so it can meet its full potential,” she said.

Dr. Robert M. Gould, President of San Francisco Bay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility, supports recommendations to improve the program.  "Fixing the Green Chemistry Initiative will make it more effective at driving consumer products to be less toxic.  This is good news for the health of all," he said.

The policy research project included three overlapping phases of work: a literature review to identify best practices in chemicals policy; structured interviews with experts in green chemistry science and policy to evaluate the Green Chemistry Initiative; and evaluation of the degree to which breast cancer-relevant chemicals have been addressed to date by the program.

The report, accompanying fact sheet, and supplementary materials are available at this link: http://bit.ly/CAGreenChemistry



Jennifer Scroggins, Public Health Institute, 510-285-5512, jennifer.scroggins@phi.org
Catherine Porter, 510-393-2358, catherineaporter@gmail.com or Davis Baltz, 510-684-7594, dbaltz@igc.org, San Francisco Bay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility

About the Public Health Institute 
The Public Health Institute, an independent nonprofit organization, is dedicated to promoting health, well-being and quality of life for people throughout California, across the nation and around the world.