SafeTec Blog

TSCA Reform: Empowering the EPA for Effective Chemical Management

On June 22, President Obama signed into law the Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. This act represents the first major legislation to regulate chemical management in the US since the TSCA was passed 40 years ago. The reforms finally empower the EPA to effectively evaluate and mitigate chemicals heretofore presumed safe simply because they had not been tested. The agency must now also affirm the safety of any new chemical before it can be marketed. The Lautenberg Act raises the importance of chemical management as a function of public trust to the level of the Clean Water Act, with the potential to have the same long-term positive impact on this and future generations of Americans.

The five points that follow explain the scope and effect of these reforms.

  1. For existing chemicals, the TSCA reforms mean an EPA risk-based review of all chemicals currently on the market, with enforceable deadlines and options for action where risk is identified.
  2. For new chemicals, an “affirmative finding” of safety must be issued by the EPA prior to marketing. Even after approval, the EPA may still intervene to mitigate risks, including banning, restricting, or requiring more testing.
  3. Existing state chemical management regulations remain in effect and are grandfathered for specific chemicals. However, EPA rulings preempt state actions whenever the agency finds a chemical to be safe as marketed or moves to evaluate or mitigate risk—only if the state action and agency evaluation address the same uses and risks. In these cases, state actions are “paused” (a waiver can be requested).
  4. Confidential Business Information (CBI) claims must be substantiated upon submission and expire after ten years unless re-substantiated within that time period.
  5. EPA will collect up to $25 million in fees for the submission of test data for review and of premanufacture notices (PRN) for new chemicals or uses. These fees will fund requests for chemical evaluations, the process or manufacture of chemicals currently being risk-evaluated, and the significant workload the reforms impose on EPA.














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