What’s New in the Modernized TSCA?

In June, President Obama signed the modernized Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) into law, and in doing so updated the nation’s chemical management law for the first time in four decades. Originally enacted in 1976, the new TSCA law gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to review and regulate chemicals, require reporting, recordkeeping, and testing requirements, and restrictions relating to chemical substances and/or mixtures.

Key changes that are coming:
Known as The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the new law:

  • Requires the EPA to evaluate existing chemicals with clear and enforceable deadlines
  • Provides the EPA the authority to evaluate chemicals purely on the basis of health risks
  • Requires manufacturers to issue a Pre-Manufacture Notice (PMN) prior to manufacture of a new chemical
  • Provides increased public transparency for chemical information
  • Assures a consistent source of funding for EPA to carry out the responsibilities under the new law

According to E&E Publishing’s Obama signs TSCA reform into law, the law’s enactment sets into motion a series of very ambitious implementation deadlines. In just the first year, for example, the EPA must complete several formal rulemakings, including establishing processes for prioritization, risk evaluation, and “resetting” the inventory of chemicals in commerce.

The Lautenberg Act also requires the EPA to identify and begin risk evaluations on 10 substances by 12/22/2016. Subsequently the EPA must maintain a rolling list of 10 substances for risk evaluations as initial risk evaluations are completed. Additional guidance documents, policies, and activities prescribed by the law must also be completed.

Who will be impacted?
Law firm Reed Smith says both chemical industry associations and manufacturers alike praise the revamped legislation for providing regulatory certainty that the “old” TSCA failed to provide since states were free to pass their own laws. Now, federal preemption provides uniform standards and much-needed regulatory certainty, the firm writes in Understanding the Re-Vamped TSCA: Federal Preemption Gives Uniform Standards.

The amended TSCA will have significant impacts on chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, processors, and other downstream users. “Affected companies need to understand the revised statutory concepts in the bill in order to adapt to and comply with a new U.S. regulatory framework for chemical management,” the law firm points out.

Lastly, as EPA prioritizes, evaluates for risks, gathers chemical information, and possibly restricts individual chemicals in the upcoming months and years, affected businesses must maintain an awareness of EPA actions and remain involved in each stage of the process.

Start preparing today
To start preparing for the modernized TSCA, law firm BNA tells impacted companies to:

  • Read and understand the new law and its implications
  • Review the TSCA Work Plan list of chemicals to identify any important to the company’s operations,
  • Know what chemicals your firm makes, imports, uses, or ships
  • Know what health, safety, and exposure data your firm has for those chemicals
  • Participate in rulemaking initiatives

For the EPA’s summary of the modernized TSCA, summary information, and a list of frequently asked questions, please click here.