US Senate passes update of toxic substances control act (TSCA)

President Obama Signs Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Reform Bill into Law

On 22 June, 2016 the United State President Obama signed into law the long awaited update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The law gives U.S. EPA new authority to review and regulate chemicals, along with mandating that the agency review and update its inventory of existing chemicals and create a risk evaluation process within six months from the day of President Obama’s signature. Under the modified TSCA, the review of existing chemicals process involves two parts.

  • First, when deciding whether a regulation of a chemical is warranted, EPA will be tasked with looking at its hazards and exposures without considering cost or other non-risk factors. If that analysis indicates that a chemical’s use presents an unreasonable risk, EPA will then turn to the second step to determine whether a rulemaking is required to manage the risk.
  • In this second step, EPA will be required to issue a risk management rule, ranging from minimum labeling or notice requirements to an outright ban. This step will require EPA to consider the chemical’s health and environmental effects as well as the costs of implementation.
  • EPA must also consider the feasibility of alternatives. This new approach is in contrast to the “least burdensome” approach used in the existing TSCA.

TSCA chemicals toxic law

When reviewing new chemicals and new uses, EPA now can make four determinations whether the new chemical or new use: (1) presents an unreasonable risk (in which case EPA must immediately take regulatory action under current law subsection (f)); (2) may present an unreasonable risk, is made in large quantities, or there is not enough information to make a determination (which would trigger order requirements under subsection (e)); (3) is likely not to present a risk under the conditions of use (in which case manufacture may begin); or (4) is a subset of option 3, a low hazard, and manufacture may begin.

As in the existing TSCA, the manufacturer of the chemical has 90 days to send EPA a notice and supporting information alerting EPA of its intent to manufacture.

If EPA takes no action within those 90 days, but no later than 180 days under the new law if additional time is need, then manufacturing of the chemical can proceed.

Under the new law, EPA is tasked with reviewing all existing chemicals in its inventory using the new process. EPA will have a year after the law takes effect to determine which chemicals are high priority. Importantly, regulation of individual chemicals under this act will preempt state regulations introduced after April 22, 2016, subject to a number of exceptions.

The modified law will also handle fees in a different manner, allowing fees collected under one provision to be used to work on the same chemical under testing, evaluation and regulation, and information protection provisions.

U.S. EPA is now tasked with implementing the law, which is expected to take six months.


Sources :

Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, H.R. 2576. 


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