Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA): Implementation and New Challenges [August 3, 2007]   [open pdf - 210KB]

"Title I of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976 has never been amended, but recent legal, scientific, and technological changes are prompting some policy makers to reexamine the law. TSCA regulates potential risks of industrial chemicals in U.S. commerce, based on three policies: (1) Chemical manufacturers and processors are responsible for testing chemicals to determine their potential effects on health and the environment; (2) EPA should regulate chemicals that present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment; and (3) EPA's implementation of the law should not 'impede unduly or create unnecessary economic barriers to technological innovation.' […] To date, EPA has compiled an inventory of roughly 82,000 chemicals that have been produced in, or imported into, the United States at some time since 1976. […] Recent changes in science and technology pose challenges to EPA implementation of TSCA. For example, scientists now know that the timing and duration of exposure to a chemical can determine its effects, as can the age, gender, and heritable traits of people who are exposed. New technologies have created bioengineered plants, microbes, and nanoparticles, which EPA must categorize as 'existing' or 'new' and manage as 'chemical substances' under TSCA. Faced with these challenges to TSCA, some analysts, and most in the regulated community, nevertheless believe that TSCA has performed as intended, and they support TSCA in its current form. They praise TSCA as a flexible, efficient, and effective limit to over-regulation. Other legal commentators and analysts want to amend TSCA, because they think that it has not accomplished the tasks laid out for it by Congress, and is unlikely to do better in the future."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL34118
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