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September 29, 2008

For More Information, Contact:

Sarah Mason at (916) 651-4011


PALO ALTO – State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today that Governor Schwarzenegger signed his Senate Bill 509, which establishes the Toxics Information Clearinghouse to allow consumers, businesses, and workers to gain knowledge about chemicals.  SB 509 helps form the foundations for the Governor’s Initiative on Green Chemistry, the most comprehensive in the nation, as a means for establishing a scientific-based process to evaluate chemicals and alternatives.

“This bi-partisan package of environmental legislation propels California to the forefront of the nation and the world with the most comprehensive Green Chemistry program ever established,” Governor Schwarzenegger said.

“Californians currently have little if any access to information about the many thousands of chemicals that are commonly used in their products, released into the environment, or present at their workplaces,” Simitian said.  “The Governor’s signature on SB 509 represents a significant breakthrough in the ultimate goal of protecting people from exposure to harmful products.” 

While many consumer products include harmful substances, ranging from lead-tainted toys to linens with toxic flame retardants, there is currently no state agency that has broad based authority to take these products off the shelves or spur the development of safer alternatives.  The “Green Chemistry” package puts scientific experts in charge of finding the best ways to safeguard California families from potential hazards.

The Clearinghouse created in SB 509 will receive information from numerous sources throughout the world and create a virtual site for chemical data, including effects on health and the environment.  In addition to building one place to identify potential hazards, the Clearinghouse will also provide the initial steps for identifying potentially safer substitutes.  As a result, said Simitian, “California businesses will have a basis for manufacturing products that are cleaner, greener, and healthier for both the economy and our households.”  And, said Simitian, “California consumers will have a reliable source of information about the chemicals they encounter in their daily lives – including the risks they pose, if any.”

The other half of the “Green Chemistry” bill package - Assembly Bill 1879, co-authored by Simitian and Assemblymember Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), authorizes the Department of Toxics Substances Control to regulate chemicals in products that pose known hazards to consumers and others.  AB 1879 creates a process for reviewing these product hazards, assessing potential alternatives, and taking the necessary steps to protect the public and the environment by actions that can range from further study to product bans.

“Simply put,” said Simitian, “this legislation allows us to ask and answer two important questions:  what’s in it and what do we do about it?”

Simitian chairs the Senate Environmental Quality Committee which held hearings in 2006 to discuss the findings in a landmark report by the University of California’s California Policy Research Center entitled “Green Chemistry in California:  A Framework for Leadership in Chemicals Policy and Innovation.”  The report revealed that on any given day, the United States produces or imports 42 billon pounds of chemicals—chemicals that may cause problems for human health and the environment.

At a bill signing ceremony with the Governor earlier this morning in Los Angeles, Simitian said that, “The Governor’s signature today isn’t the end of our effort; quite the contrary.  It’s the beginning of a whole new way of doing business.  Designing chemical products from scratch that are less hazardous to the environment and to the public’s health and safety.  Reusing and recycling chemicals; and treating and disposing of chemicals in a responsible way.  That’s our future; not just for California, but for the nation.”

To learn more about SB 509, visit