Regulation Round-Up: Proposed TSCA Reform – Safe Chemicals Act of 2010/2011

Background: The Safe Chemicals Act of 2010 was introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) in April of 2010 and again in April of 2011. A similar bill called the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010 was unveiled in July of 2010 in the House by Representatives Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Henry Waxman (D-CA). Both of these bills seek to modernize the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) widely believed to have outlived its usefulness. Wrote Time Magazine of the impending legislation: “When Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976, Gerald Ford was still President and Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was the No. 1 song of the year… It may finally be time to bring chemical regulation out of the polyester era.”  Provisions in these bills include specific edicts to manufacturers requiring that they develop and submit safety-testing data on chemicals they produce.  It is uncertain if and when this will be made into law, but TSCA reform eventually will probably become a reality here in the U.S..  Most recently the senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works approved a mark-up of the 2011 version of Senator Frank Lautenberg’s (D-NJ) Safe Chemicals Act on July 25, 2012.

Dates: To be determined.

Geography: United States

Business Considerations:  Globally in recent years we have seen a number of industrialized countries pass regulations that require testing and collection of data on chemicals that are used within their borders.  REACH in the EU and China’s version of a REACH type regulation are examples of such legislation.  Both proposed TSCA reform bills offer similar content to REACH.  In a nutshell, The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 that made it out of the senate committee would require businesses that produce and process chemicals to test the chemicals now in use that have never been tested for toxic impact on human health and the environment, and place the onus on companies both to prioritize action for chemicals of high concern, and inform the public about all the chemicals they put into their products. These bills would also give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) new regulatory power over the U.S. chemical industry by granting them specific authority to require reporting, dictate record-keeping and testing requirements, and ban a chemical’s use for non-compliance.  This sort of change to TSCA would be momentous to the chemical industry – causing a large amount of additional work that would need to be done to be able to manufacture and sell their products here in the U.S.  For a great summary of the committee mark-up click here.