Our nation’s primary chemicals management law must be updated to keep pace with scientific advancements and to ensure that chemical products are safe for intended use—while also encouraging innovation and protecting American jobs.
While chemical makers invest significant resources to study and test their products, Americans also need to feel confident that the federal regulatory system is working to protect their families and the environment.
The primary law overseeing the safety of chemical products—the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)—was passed in 1976 and provides the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to review and regulate chemicals in commerce. TSCA was designed to ensure that products are safe for intended use. While the law created a robust system of regulations, over time, confidence in EPA’s regulation of chemicals has eroded.
This lack of confidence has created pressure on individual state legislatures to create their own chemicals management laws and on retailers to pull products from the shelves, often based on the claims of activists rather than scientific conclusions.
As a result, the regulatory landscape and marketplace have become fractured and contradictory in some cases. After decades of implementation, it has become apparent that TSCA needs updating to reflect advances in science and technology, as well as today’s public expectations of vigorous government oversight.
ACC’s Policy Position
Congress must modernize TSCA to ensure product safety and consumer confidence, as well as to preserve America’s role as the world’s leading innovator.
TSCA modernization must place protecting public health as its highest priority, including consideration of safety for children.
Modernization must derive from core principles including: make sure chemicals are safe for intended use; make sure safety decisions are cost-effective and expeditious; prioritize chemicals to determine which substances warrant additional review and assessment; utilize all reliable information; and make safety information public while protecting intellectual property.
To ensure confidence in safety regulations, EPA’s decisions must be based on a strong scientific framework that uses modern technology, proven safety testing methods and high-quality data.
EPA’s program that approves new chemicals enables innovation in American chemistry by evaluating safety information, requiring testing to fill any information gaps and protecting intellectual property. It works well and must be retained.
While the United States should learn from other jurisdictions, Congress must not jump to conclusions about the appropriateness of other chemicals management systems for the United States. For example, the European Union’s REACH program is often cited as a model, but its effectiveness has yet to be proven. Canada’s approach to prioritization and review may provide an effective model for some changes to TSCA.
Since scientific understanding is always evolving, a regulatory system that can adapt to advances in science and technology will help ensure the safe use of the essential, innovative products made possible by chemistry, as well as maintain American competitiveness to keep jobs here at home.
» Learn more about current chemical safety regulations.