Safe Chemicals Act of 2011: The Official Start of TSCA Reform Efforts in the New Congress

Date: Apr 15, 2011

On April 14, 2011, Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) re-introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S. 847) to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Al Franken (D-MN). Highlights include:

"New" prioritization element. EPA would have to classify chemicals into one of three categories. Slated for immediate risk management would be substances that are or degrade/metabolize into a persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic substance (PBT) with the potential for widespread exposure to humans or other organisms.

Elimination of the article exemption. This year's bill takes a surprising turn in its attempt to abolish this well-established and globally recognized exemption by making chemical substances in articles subject to its provisions.

Virtually unfettered state authority to regulate. States could be prevented from adopting requirements that are different from or in addition to EPA regulations only if it could be shown that it is impossible to comply with both.

Safety standard and minimum data set provisions. Finding that there is "reasonable certainty that no harm will result to human health or the environment from aggregate exposure to the substance" continues to be the proposed as the new U.S. chemical control safety standard, and minimum data regarding physical and chemical characteristics, toxicological properties, exposure, and use would be required for "existing" and "new" chemicals.

Additional Resources:

  • The bill is available at http://lautenberg.senate.gov/assets/SafeChem.pdf.
  • An overview of the main provisions is available at http://lautenberg.senate.gov/assets/SafeChem-Summary.pdf.
  • Sen. Lautenberg's press release on the bill is available at http://lautenberg.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=332502&.
  • American Chemistry Council (ACC) – http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/acc-responds-to-introduction-of-senator-lautenbergs-chemical-safety-legislation-119871864.html.
  • The Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) – http://www.cspa.org/infocenter/2011/04/cspa-responds-to-senator-lautenberg%E2%80%99s-introduction-of-%E2%80%9Csafe-chemicals-act-of-2011%E2%80%9D/.
  • The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families jointly released a side-by-side comparison of several key provisions in the 2010 and 2011 versions of the Safe Chemicals Act, available at http://blogs.edf.org/nanotechnology/files/2011/04/Summary-of-key-changes-in-Safe-Chemicals-Act-of-2011-vs.-2010.pdf.
  • The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) – http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/npra-reiterates-need-for-responsible-tsca-modernization-119870149.html.
  • DuPont also provided comments, available at http://us.vocuspr.com/Newsroom/Query.aspx?SiteName=DupontNew&Entity=PRAsset&SF_PRAsset_PRAssetID_EQ=120377&XSL=PressRelease&Cache=False.
  • Stay tuned for a comprehensive summary of the major provisions of the bill, which will be posted here at the TSCA Reform Center in the following days. For up-to-the-minute coverage of TSCA reform, please visit http://tsca-reform.com.