The California Legislature has passed a bill - similar to one enacted, but still not in effect, in San Francisco - that would ban the use of certain phthalates in toys and child-care articles for children under age 3.
The proposed ban passed the Assembly on June 5, but languished in the Senate until a vote was scheduled after the Chinese toy recalls began. The Senate approved the bill 21-18 on Sept. 4.
But it is not clear whether the bill, which would go into effect in 2009, will be signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger before the Oct. 14 deadline. The reason? The California Environmental Protection Agency initially had sought to amend the legislation and turn it into a study bill that would solicit information from manufacturers, the European Union and the Consumer Product Safety Commission before the Assembly voted on it.
The state EPA, which began a Green Chemistry Initiative in May to develop a consistent means for evaluating risks from chemicals, is on record as opposing a substance-to-substance approach to banning chemicals.
``In the absence of a unifying approach, interest groups and policymakers have been attempting to take these issues on one-by-one,'' said Linda Adams, who was appointed head of Cal/EPA by Schwarzenegger in May 2006. ``I believe we need to develop a coordinated, comprehensive strategy,'' said Adams in a memo to her directors about the initiative. ``Product-by-product, chemical-by-chemical, and now even city-by-city approaches can often have unintended, even regrettable consequences, even with the best of intentions.''