In an article published on August 29, 2016 by the magazine Ensia, journalist Elizabeth Grossman explains the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the U.S. chemicals regulation which has been revised by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (LCSA) on June 22, 2016 (FPF reported). “TSCA regulates chemicals used commercially in the United States,” however it does not cover pesticides, chemicals used in cosmetics and personal care products, food, food packaging, or pharmaceuticals, Grossman clarifies. However, some chemicals have multiple uses (e.g. bisphenol A (BPA, CAS 80-05-7) in food packaging and thermal paper receipts) and thus “may be regulated concurrently by TSCA and other federal laws,” Grossman notes. The new TSCA requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review the safety of all existing chemicals (i.e. already on the market) as well new chemicals (i.e. to be placed on the market). According to Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney at the non-profit organization Environmental Working Group (EWG), “now new chemicals must be found safe before they can be sold.”
Further, the new TSCA requires the EPA to prioritize chemicals for evaluation: By mid-December 2016 reviews for 10 chemicals must be underway and within the first three-and-a-half years 20 chemical evaluations must be ongoing. Chemical reviews shall be completed within three years (deadline can be extended six months) and the EPA shall issue any regulation within two years after that. “Doing the math on 62,000 chemicals [already on the market] shows it could take the EPA centuries to work through every substance,” Grossman notes. Nevertheless, the new TSCA is “expected to influence which chemicals are chosen as product ingredients, how chemicals are used in manufacturing and how chemicals are manufactured as companies try to avoid using chemicals likely to be restricted or banned,” Grossman asserts. Also, the new law leaves room for action by state governments and citizens, e.g. on chemical uses not regulated by TSCA and bills on chemical use reporting.
Elizabeth Grossman (August 29, 2016). “10 things you need to know about the new U.S. chemicals law.” Ensia