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Greening of State's Chemicals Suggested

A UC research team urges the Legislature to enact a policy to restrict dangerous materials and replace them with safer substitutes.

March 14, 2006|Marla Cone | Times Staff Writer

Some California businesses have voluntarily established policies to avoid toxic compounds, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Kaiser Permanente. But some said they were frustrated by the lack of disclosure requirements under the federal law.

Lynn Garske, environmental stewardship manager at Oakland-based Kaiser Permanente, said the report's recommendations would give the company the data it needed to pursue its pledge to use nontoxic medical devices and other equipment.

"We make requests to our vendors and suppliers, but we have a lot of difficulty getting true information. The safety testing isn't there, so we aren't getting the answers to help us make decisions," Garske said.

Developing a proposal for the Legislature by next year may be overly optimistic.

John Uhlrich of the Chemical Industry Council of California, which represents about 50 manufacturers and distributors, said he agreed with some points but "when we begin to get down to how we implement these things, questions will arise."

"In California we have more regulation than nearly any state. In fact, our industry in California is so heavily regulated it is not growing," Uhlrich said. "My definition of a better policy is more streamlined and less obtrusive. Someone else's idea of better would be more regulation and more reporting."

The recommendations come as the U.S. House of Representatives is trying to scale back states' control. Last week, the House passed legislation that would give federal regulators the final word over food-safety warnings, which could nullify state laws such as California's Proposition 65.

The UC team was advised by 13 environmental health and policy experts from the Berkeley campus, UCLA, UC Riverside and the state Department of Health Services.

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