California Proposes Listing of 30 Chemicals as Causing Cancer or Reproductive Harm

Move Protects Drinking Water and People by Expanding Warnings for Harmful Substances

San Francisco, CA (June 12, 2009) - Under pressure from a coalition of labor and environmental groups, California today proposed to list 30 toxic chemicals as known to cause cancer and reproductive harm.  The announcement follows a ruling in favor of the Natural Resources Defense Council, United Steelworkers and Sierra Club, and against the California Chamber of Commerce, in a suit over California's duty to list these chemicals.

"The state's decision to move forward with listing these chemicals will help health care providers and the public better understand which chemicals could harm their health," said Gina Solomon, MD, senior scientist with the Natural resources Defense Council. "Californians overwhelmingly voted for Proposition 65 because it provides important information about chemicals that cause birth defects and cancer. The state has taken the next step in providing better information."

Under Proposition 65, California annually publishes a list of chemicals that warns consumers of harmful substances and prohibits the discharge of listed chemicals into drinking water sources. The groups sued the state in 2007 over its wholesale failure to keep the Proposition 65 list current in light of new science and revised workplace protections.

The listing was made by California EPA's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), the science office in the agency which is responsible for implementing Proposition 65. In recent weeks, the Governor's office announced a plan to dissolve OEHHA, eliminate much of its funding, and disperse its functions to other boards and departments. Advocates of independent science in California have strongly opposed the Governor's proposal and argue that OEHHA performs essential service to protect public health.

"Today's announcement shows that OEHHA has a critical role to play in protecting our families' health, even at the darkest hour when it is threatened with being disbanded," said Bill Magavern, Director of Sierra Club California. "California needs independent science at Cal/EPA to continue to provide information the public can use."

Chemicals included in today's announcement include styrene, a principal ingredient in many plastic and foam products, tert-amyl methyl ether (TAME), which is a common gasoline additive, carbaryl, a common household pesticide, and the phenoxy herbicides, which are widely found in weed killers sold to homeowners.