May 13, 2016 / Andrew Brown

Congress Prepares to Modernize Chemical Regulations

Get ready for major changes to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Congress is close to enacting legislation that will update the law for the first time since 1976.

Exact changes haven’t been formalized. But, most reforms will focus on the approximately 62,000 chemicals that were already in commerce when the original statute went into effect. Those chemicals, with few exceptions, have not been regulated. Companies cannot manufacture or import new chemicals without submitting certain information about their risks. But, they can manufacture grandfathered chemicals with almost no restrictions.

“We now know that there are some pretty significant hazards associated with some of those chemicals,” says John Kowalski, senior regulatory specialist at ChemADVISOR. “The focus of any TSCA reform will be to force some progress in that area.”

Kowalski will talk about the pending changes during TSCA - Legislative and Regulatory Updates - 2016​​, a presentation at Stewardship 2016. “Organizations will need to take whatever actions necessary to comply with the requirements that apply to their operations,” he says. “There are going to be costs involved. For example, new statutory provisions may require more testing in conjunction with efforts to prioritize the development of health and safety data for existing chemicals.

New regulations may also impact the use or availability of certain chemicals. “There’s sometimes a stigma associated with regulations. Some companies may decide to stop using a certain chemical because of the stigma or because they don’t want to deal with the regulations that will apply,” says Kowalski. “Others may find that their suppliers no longer want to manufacture or distribute certain chemicals. Conversely, companies may see increases in demand for chemicals deemed by EPA to pose a minimal risk.”

Andrew Brown

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