California passed the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act in 1986. This law was designed to remove harmful chemicals from the state’s drinking water supply. The governor is required to produce a list of chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, or any other reproductive harm, and update it every year. The current list has over 500 chemicals, including dyes, solvents, drugs, pesticides, food additives, and by-products of industrial processes.
No businesses operating in the state are allowed to discharge any of the listed chemicals into the drinking water supply. If they do, state authorities post a warning on the facility. The business owner must demonstrate that the chemical in question poses no significant risk to public health or face certain penalties.
As a result of this law, certain common chemicals are no longer used in California. For example, trichloroethylene is no longer in correction fluids, and toluene is no longer in nail care products. Ceramic utensils and foil caps contain less lead, and air emissions of chloroform, ethylene oxide, and hexavalent chromium are lower.