Congress Introduces Significant New U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act Reform Legislation


On April 15, 2010, both Houses of Congress introduced legislation aimed at revamping the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA). As explained in more detail below, if adopted as written, this legislation could impose significant new requirements and constraints on businesses that manufacture or import chemicals (including as constituents of imported products).

Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2010, and Representatives Bobby Rush, D-Il, and Henry A. Waxman, D-CA, presented a discussion draft of the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010. While this is not the first time Congress has attempted to overhaul American policy on the regulation and import of toxic substances, these bills are particularly significant, as they have been introduced at a time when both the chemical industry and public health and environmental organizations are both calling for TSCA reform.

Proponents of the newly introduced TSCA reform bills say that they are aimed at achieving stronger public health and safety regulation, greater access to information, and a safer and more sustainable market for chemical products. Lisa Jackson, the Obama-appointed Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has also recently called for a revision of the agency’s chemical management and risk assessment programs, and advocates the enactment of a strong safety standard for chemicals. In fact, the TSCA reform bills, as introduced in Congress, would greatly expand the EPA’s authority to require manufacturers and importers to provide any data needed to determine a chemical’s safety and to take action beyond what TSCA currently permits to restrict chemicals that may pose a high risk to the public....

...Below is a brief summary of the main aspects of TSCA, its results, and a description of changes proposed in both TSCA Reform bills.

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