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EPA: Amended Toxic Substances Control Act

EPA: Amended Toxic Substances Control Act

Under the USA Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Pollution Prevention Act, EPA evaluates potential risks from new and existing chemicals and finds ways to prevent or reduce pollution before it gets into the environment.

The new law includes much needed improvements such as:

  • Mandatory requirement for EPA to evaluate existing chemicals with clear and enforceable deadlines;
  • New risk-based safety standard;
  • Increased public transparency for chemical information; and
  • Consistent source of funding for EPA to carry out the responsibilities under the new law.

The following provides a brief overview of the key provisions in the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act for Existing chemicals, New chemicals, Confidential business information, Source of sustained funding, Federal-state partnership and Mercury export and disposal.

  • EPA must establish a risk-based process to determine which existing chemicals will be prioritized for assessment, identifying them as either “high” or low” priority substances.
  • Chemicals are evaluated against a new risk-based safety standard to determine whether a chemical use poses an “unreasonable risk” and must consider risks to susceptible and highly exposed populations.
  • Costs and availability of alternatives must be considered when determining appropriate action to address risks.
  • Action, including bans and phaseouts, must begin as quickly as possible but no later than five years after the final regulation.
  • Manufacturers can request that EPA evaluate specific chemicals, and pay the associated costs. If on the TSCA Workplan, manufacturers pay 50% of costs. If not on the TSCA Workplan, manufacturers pay 100% of costs.
  • New fast-track process to address certain Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBT) Chemicals on the TSCA Workplan.
  • Pre-Market Review of New Chemicals.
  • EPA must review and make determinations on all new confidentiality claims for the identity of chemicals and a subset of other types of confidentiality claims and review past confidentiality claims for chemical identity to determine if still warranted.
  • EPA will be allowed to collect up to $25 million annually in user fees from chemical manufacturers and processors when they submit test data for EPA review, or submit a premanufacture notice for a new chemicals or a notice of new use, or manufacture or process a chemical substance that is the subject of a risk evaluation; or request that EPA conduct a chemical risk evaluation.
  • Regarding the Federal-State Partnership, States can continue to act on any chemical, or particular uses or risks from a chemical that EPA has not yet addressed. On the other hand, State action on a chemical is preempted when EPA finds (through a risk evaluation) that the chemical is safe, or EPA takes final action to address the chemical’s risks.
  • The new law amends requirements of the Mercury Export Ban Act (MEBA) and addresses Dept. of Energy’s (DOE) responsibility to designate a long-term storage facility. In addition, this law requires that EPA creates an inventory of supply, use, and trade of mercury and mercury compounds; and prohibits export of certain mercury compounds.

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