Jun 17, 2015

SFEI tracks contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), building the knowledge necessary to prevent tomorrow’s pollution problems. SFEI also aids pollution prevention efforts through our Green Chemistry focus area. Recent local and state developments on CECs and green chemistry include:

  • On May 22nd, the California State Assembly passed AB 888 (Bloom), a bill to ban the use of plastic microbeads in personal care products like facial scrubs and toothpaste. These tiny bits of plastic can pass through wastewater treatment plants and enter water bodies like San Francisco Bay, where they can persist for hundreds or thousands of years. Through the Bay RMP, SFEI is monitoring microplastic pollution; preliminary findings on microplastics in the Bay were featured in a recent San Jose Mercury News article.
  • Alameda County's pharmaceutical disposal ordinance with extended producer responsibility (EPR) has prevailed in all legal challenges and goes into effect later this year. The ordinance will require drugmakers to pay for disposal. Pharmaceutical trade associations challenged the ordinance all the way to the Supreme Court. In May, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, allowing a lower court decision in favor of Alameda County to stand. Many Bay Area counties have begun passing similar ordinances.
  • On May 7th, bisphenol A (BPA) was listed as a reproductive toxicant via California’s Proposition 65 process. SFEI provided scientific testimony to the expert panel that made the decision. The CalEPA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment will now determine the BPA levels that could trigger a Proposition 65 warning label on products.
  • On April 16th, the CalEPA Department of Toxic Substances Control finalized a three-year workplan to guide its green chemistry effort, the Safer Consumer Products Regulations. The workplan highlights products the agency may examine over the next three years, including personal care products, building products (paint, adhesives, sealants, flooring), furniture, cleaning products, clothing, fishing and angling equipment, and office machinery. The agency also identified aquatic impacts as one of five policy priorities guiding its actions. SFEI Senior Scientist Dr. Rebecca Sutton advises the agency on implementation of these regulations as a member of the Green Ribbon Science Panel.
  • SFEI and the Bay Area Pollution Prevention Group hosted Dr. Rolf Halden (Arizona State University) at a meeting on June 3rd to present his pioneering research on emerging contaminants in sewage sludge. Local wastewater treatment plants have the opportunity to participate in ongoing research on flame retardants, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and many other contaminants.

For more information on any of these topics, please contact Dr. Rebecca Sutton ([email protected]).

Rebecca Sutton
Associated Staff: 
Programs and Focus Areas: 
Clean Water Program
Bay Regional Monitoring Program
Contaminants of Emerging Concern