The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976 was created to allow the EPA to regulate and restrict chemical substances or mixtures. However, the EPA has hit road blocks in court when it comes to regulating chemical usage and many chemical products people use everyday have not been tested or determined to be safe. The thousands of chemicals that have not been tested for toxicity or safety could be linked to diseases and environmental problems.
A new bill has been proposed called the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act to make necessary improvements to TSCA. In brief, the new legislation will:
• Require all chemicals in commerce to be assessed for safety by the EPA and all chemical manufacturers to test their products for human health and environmental impacts.
• Allow the EPA to collect fees for reviewing the safety of new and existing products from chemical manufacturers.
• Give the EPA the power to order chemical manufactures to provide safety and toxicity data for their products.
• Require the EPA to review and prove if confidential business information such as the identity of a chemical that is kept hidden is credible or if it can be made available to the public. Chemical manufacturers must also substantiate their claim of confidentiality when the make it, as well as for every decade the chemical is in use.
• Grant the EPA the power to override state regulations on toxic chemicals.
Another objective of the legislation is to reduce the amount of testing done on laboratory animals in cases where there is another reliable and relevant testing method. The EPA is required to utilize testing results when determining chemical regulation from alternative methods in all instances where it is practical.
Any chemical that does not meet the safety standard or requires more information to determine its safety will be prohibited or restricted from distribution by the EPA. The EPA will impose restrictions or ban this chemical if the safety of human health or the environment is at risk.
On top of the list of chemicals to be reviewed by the EPA are those targeted by the Obama Administration. These chemicals include N-methylpyrrolidone, methylene chloride, trichloroethylene, and asbestos products that are known to cause significant health problems. It is expected that the review of these chemicals and every chemical in commerce can take upwards of a generation to complete. Therefore, the Lautenberg Act may not fully affect chemicals on the market today for decades to come.
This legislation is not well favored by everyone. The chemical industry supports the changes to the existing chemical laws and how it will foster more trust between them and the public. While some environmental and safety activists disagree, stating that the reforms are not adequate enough to protect human and environmental safety.
On June 22, 2016 President Obama signed the bill into law. For more information about the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act visit https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/frank-r-lautenberg-chemical-safety-21st-century-act