By Melissa Campbell
On September 29, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Senate Bill (CSB) 193 which amends California’s Hazard Evaluation System and Information Service (HESIS). Taking effect January 1, 2016, this law is the first in the country that requires companies that manufacture and distribute toxic chemicals to provide a government agency information about where those chemicals are being shipped. Companies need to provide HESIS with the names and addresses of businesses and places of employment in California that have purchased the substances in question. The quantity of the chemical purchased must be provided, even if it is part of mixture.
Along with these advantages come limitations. Companies will provide HESIS with names and addresses of businesses and places of employment in California that have purchased the substances in question. The information provided to HESIS in regards to these hazardous substances will only need to be provided under two conditions: upon request, or when there is new scientific or medical evidence indicating that the substance may pose new or previously unrecognized occupational hazards.
These hazards may also not even be detailed on the Safety Data Sheets (SDS’s). For example, the 13th Report on Carcinogens (RoC) has recently described particular substances as being carcinogenic. However, some companies that provide SDS’s for these substances have failed to provide this information. For example, the 13th RoC describes 1-Bromopropane as being “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in experimental animals.” SDS’s currently obtained online do not contain any information about the carcinogenicity of this chemical. Also, the 13th RoC states that o-Toluidine is a “known” carcinogen while SDS’s label it as a “possible” carcinogen. Similarly, ChemSec Substitute It Now (SIN) list recently added 28 chemicals that have newly identified hazards. Endocrine disruption has ten new chemicals listed under this hazard while the toxicological information on an SDS does not even include this. Another limitation of this bill is that information will not be published publicly unless another law requires such disclosure. It will also not apply to chemicals used in consumer products or to other sellers of these chemicals.
Although the lists of limitations may seem extensive, this law will allow HESIS to work with employers to find safer substitutes for hazardous chemicals and develop and issue hazard alerts. How effective this law will be remains unseen. However, now employers and employees have a legally enforceable law to allow questions to be asked on where certain hazardous chemicals are being used in California.
Grossman, Elizabeth. “Expanding the Right to Know: California Workers Gain Additional Access to Workplace Toxics Information as New Hazards Emerge.” Web log post. Science Blogs. Science Blogs, LLC, 13 Oct. 2014. Web. 20 Oct. 2014. http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2014/10/13/anding-the-right-to-know-california-workers-gain-additional-access-to-workplace-toxics-information-as-new-hazards-emerge/
“Hazard Evaluation System and Information Service.” California Department of Public Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.
“National Toxicology Program.” 13th Report on Carcinogens (RoC). US Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.
S. 193-Hazard Evaluation System and Information Service, Chapter 830 Cong., California Legislative Information (2014) N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014. http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB193&search_keywords=