Toxic Substances Control Act Overhaul Approved by Senate
The Senate approved Dec. 18 its version of legislation (S. 697) effecting the first significant overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act since its enactment nearly 40 years ago. The House of Representatives passed a separate TSCA reform bill in June, and it appears that a conference will be necessary to craft a final measure.
Under the Senate bill chemical safety decisions by the Environmental Protection Agency will be based solely on risk to public health and the environment, and costs or burdens to manufacturers may not be considered. All chemicals in commerce, including those “grandfathered” under TSCA, will be required to undergo safety reviews, and a safety finding for new chemicals will be required before they can enter the market. This bill will place greater emphasis on and require protection of those who may be more exposed or particularly vulnerable to the effects of exposure to chemicals and would clearly define them as including infants, children, pregnant women, chemical workers and the elderly. States will be able to restrict a chemical until and unless the EPA takes up that same chemical and addresses the same uses. Once the EPA acts on a chemical substance, a uniform federal standard will be applied across the nation.