Leading California businesses are showing that consumer products don’t have to contain toxic chemicals, threaten public health, or produce large amounts of waste. Safer alternatives exist, and they work. Companies that design their products to be safe from the start are seizing new business opportunities, gaining access to new markets, improving efficiency, and saving money—all of which gives them an edge over their competitors. These businesses are also building momentum for a new green chemistry industry in California.
The Environment California Research and Policy Center report documents and analyzes the dangerous levels of pollutants discharged to America’s waters by compiling toxic chemical releases reported to the U.S. EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for 2010.
Leading California businesses are showing that consumer products don’t have to contain toxic chemicals, threaten public health, or produce large amounts of waste in order to work. These businesses are making California healthier and wealthier by designing products to be safe from the start, following the principles of green chemistry.
This report highlights 12 Golden State businesses or institutions that are identifying unnecessary hazards in their facilities, in their manufacturing processes and in the products they sell – and acting to eliminate them. In the process, these pioneers are demonstrating how a strong state-wide green chemistry policy can give birth to a new way of doing business – benefiting the people of California and setting an example for the nation as a whole.
Green chemistry is a design and business philosophy that seeks to make products safe from the start and prevent pollution at its source.
The U.S. government’s current regulation of industrial chemicals is based on the presumption that these chemicals are innocent until they are proven to harm human health or the environment. This presumption is startling, especially when you consider:
There are an estimated 80,000 chemicals registered for commercial use in the U.S.
Only a very small percentage of these chemicals have been tested for safety to human health. 
An estimated 2,000 new chemicals are introduced each year, or an average of seven new chemicals each day. 
To date, California has relied on the federal government’s failed regulatory system to protect its residents from industrial chemicals used in commerce. California has no regulatory framework for reviewing these chemicals prior to their introduction to the market and use in consumer products. Nor does the state have a comprehensive program for assessing the safety of those chemicals currently in use.
Furnishings containing formaldehyde – a toxic chemical linked with allergies, asthma, and cancer – can contaminate indoor air within California homes. Babies and young children are particularly vulnerable to harm.
To evaluate the potential dangers children face, EnvironmentCalifornia Research & Policy Center purchased 21 products intended for use in a baby’s nursery and hired a professional laboratory to test them. We found that six of the products produced high levels of formaldehyde vapor. In particular, several brands of cribs and changing tables emit formaldehyde at levels linked with increased risk of developing allergies or asthma.
To protect children from formaldehyde and other chemical hazards, California should adopt a new approach to chemical regulation, encouraging manufacturers to design products that are safe from the start.
Products marketed for infants and children are not always completely safe for their use. Many contain toxic chemicals that may have detrimental health impacts for children exposed during critical stages of development. In this report, we analyze the extent to which five popular brands of baby bottles leach bisphenol A, a developmental, neural, and reproductive toxicant, into liquids coming into contact with them. We found that all five brands leach bisphenol A at dangerous levels found to cause harm in numerous laboratory animal studies.
California and the U.S. should reform chemical policy to ensure that all products on the market are safe for children.