California should encourage safer chems - agency director

29 January 2009 19:45  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN FRANCISCO (ICIS news)--California, the US state at the forefront of banning chemicals, would rather encourage the production of safe chemicals, a state agency director said on Thursday.

Banning individual chemicals and materials is unproductive, said Maureen Gorsen, director of the California Department of Toxic Substances.

She spoke at the InformexUSA conference.

Chemical bans represent the second wave of the environmental movement, which tried to control hazardous materials, Gorsen said. The first wave started a century ago with the conservation movement.

The third wave would involve producing chemicals that are safe, Gorsen said.

California, with its stashes of venture capital, could even be the state that could foster such an industry, she said.

Demand for safe products is growing, as more attention is given to toxins in consumer products, Gorsen said. “The media has been doing a drum roll on this.”

As it stands, the state needs to move beyond bans, she said. The bans do little to alter design of products made overseas.

“People are beginning to realise that this is not going to work,” she said. The state needs regulations that create things instead of banning them.

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