U.S. Congress Tackles Toxic Chemical Reform Legislation

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have passed differing bills to overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”). Lawmakers will now convene a conference committee to see if it is possible to agree on a single approach. Enacted in 1976, the TSCA directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate existing and new chemicals. For chemicals already in the marketplace, the EPA can consider whether they pose an unreasonable risk to health or to the environment. Newer chemicals are assessed by the EPA before they enter the market, whereby manufacturers must submit a premanufacturing notification to the EPA prior to producing or importing the chemical for commercial purposes.

Both the House and Senate bills would seek to improve the current EPA review process for chemicals already in the marketplace, simplify a patchwork of state and local laws and include a provision requiring EPA to assess chemicals based only on health and safety information rather than using cost as a factor. 

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