New UCLA Report Recommends Alternative Methodology for Reducing Chemical Hazards in Consumer Products

Lauri Gavel
Executive Director of Communications
UCLA School of Law
(310) 206-2611
gavel@law.ucla.edu

LOS ANGELES, CA, October 20, 2011 – Hazardous chemicals in consumer products pose a threat to the public and can result in significant costs to industry through future liabilities. A new report by the Sustainable Technology & Policy Program (STPP), a joint undertaking of the UCLA Schools of Law and Public Health, recommends the development of a well-defined alternatives analysis methodology to improve the protection of public health and the environment from these hazards.

In California, AB 1879 requires the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to adopt regulations to identify the chemicals of greatest concern in consumer products, evaluate their hazards and alternatives, and establish regulatory measures. AB 1879 makes alternatives analysis—a scientific method for prioritizing a different course of action, in this case by assessing and evaluating the viability of safe substitutes for existing products or processes that use hazardous materials—the focus of a new regulatory program designed to reduce or eliminate chemical hazards in consumer products.

Despite a central role that alternatives analysis plays in AB 1879, according to the new report, “Developing Regulatory Alternatives Analysis Methodologies for the California Green Chemistry Initiative,” the methodology is not well-developed or tailored to use in the regulatory setting. Using two case studies, one on garment cleaning solvents and the other on alternatives to lead solder in electronics, the report authors developed and evaluated a workable, rigorous and comprehensive alternatives analysis model as well as supporting decision-analysis software for use in a regulatory context.

“Alternatives analysis can be challenging, even in straightforward situations,” said Timothy Malloy, a faculty director of STPP and a professor at UCLA School of Law.  “While a well-designed alternatives analysis methodology will advance the central goals of AB 1879, a poorly conceived methodology can cause the same problems that the current risk management approach for chemical regulation faces. With this report, we make recommendations for how a new alternatives analysis model can be developed for California’s green chemistry regulations to decrease the public’s exposure to dangerous chemicals.”

In the report, the authors demonstrate the promise of multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA), which allows decision-makers to assess the performance of different alternatives in a clear way, as a robust method to assist in implementing the alternatives analysis requirement of AB 1879.

“Developing Regulatory Alternatives Analysis Methodologies for the California Green Chemistry Initiative” was funded by a grant from the Public Health Trust. To read a full copy of the report, please visit the UCLA Law website or the STPP website.

About the Sustainable Technology & Policy Program
The Sustainable Technology & Policy Program, a joint undertaking of the UCLA Schools of Law and Public Health, is an interdisciplinary research and education program. Its mission is to support the development of effective, balanced chemical policies, and the spread of safer chemicals and alternative manufacturing processes in the marketplace. STPP brings together researchers from across the UCLA campus and beyond with non-governmental agencies, policymakers and businesses in a unique, action-oriented initiative.  For more information, see www.stpp.ucla.edu.

About UCLA School of Law
Founded in 1949, UCLA School of Law is the youngest major law school in the nation and has established a tradition of innovation in its approach to teaching, research and scholarship. With approximately 100 faculty and 1,100 students, the school pioneered clinical teaching, is a leader in interdisciplinary research and training, and is at the forefront of efforts to link research to its effects on society and the legal profession.  For more information, visit www.law.ucla.edu.

About UCLA School of Public Health
Founded in 1961, the mission of the UCLA School of Public Health is to enhance the public's health by conducting innovative research, training future leaders and health professionals from diverse backgrounds, translating research into policy and practice, and serving our local communities and the communities of the nation and the world. The school has 650 students from over 35 nations engaged in carrying out the vision of “building healthy futures in greater Los Angeles, California, the Nation and the World.” For more information, visit www.ph.ucla.edu.
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