BlueGreen Alliance

Good Jobs, Clean Environment, Green Economy

Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)

The 1976 Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA) was supposed to give the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) power “to regulate chemical substances and mixtures which present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.” But TSCA can’t do its job. When, in 1991, the federal courts ruled that TSCA didn’t give EPA the power to ban asbestos, EPA stopped trying to use the law to restrict chemicals. Meanwhile, asbestos has been banned in 40 other countries because it causes cancer and other fatal lung diseases.

Read The Health Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act.

80,000 different chemicals have been produced and used since TSCA became law in 1976

62,000 of these chemicals were grandfathered in when TSCA became law with no requirement that they be tested and shown to be safe.

In the 35 years that TSCA has been the federal law on chemicals, EPA has required testing on just 200 chemicals.

When EPA was prevented from using TSCA to restrict asbestos, it gave up trying.

The BlueGreen Alliance has continually supported the passage of The Safe Chemicals Act which would modernize TSCA and give the EPA has the power to protect the American people from health damaging chemicals. Read more about TSCA reform and the BlueGreen Alliance's principles for chemicals policy reform.

The BlueGreen Alliance supports the Safe Chemicals Act for these reasons:

  1. Chemical Companies Will Have to Prove that their Products are Safe

The Safe Chemicals Act will shift the burden of proof and require EPA to request information from chemical manufacturers on the health and environmental hazards of every chemical they make, starting with the chemicals that are likely to be most problematic. Then EPA would determine if the information that the chemical manufacturer has provided shows there is reasonable certainty of no harm from the chemical. EPA would have the authority to set conditions or restrictions on the chemicals they decide are not safe.

  1. Everyone that Uses Chemicals Will Have the Information They Need to Protect Themselves

Because most chemicals now in use were grandfathered in under TSCA, we don’t really know which chemicals are safe and which are dangerous. Even major manufacturers like Kellogg’s Cereal don’t know if the chemicals they are using are safe.

In 2010 Kellogg’s recalled 28 million boxes of Fruit Loops, Corn Pops and other cereals after consumers complained about strange tastes, odors, nausea and diarrhea. The company found elevated levels of 2-methylnaphthalene, a component of crude oil that is related to naphthalene, an ingredient in mothballs and toilet deodorant blocks.  The government doesn’t know if the chemical is dangerous because EPA doesn’t have basic health and safety data for this grandfathered chemical. The Safe Chemicals Act would require chemical manufacturers to provide this information if they want to keep their products on the market.

  1. Encouraging Innovation and Investment To Create More Good Jobs

In May, 2011, the BlueGreen Alliance released a new study that shows that TSCA reform can support job creation in the U.S. chemical industry while protecting public health and the environment. The study, produced by the Political Economy Research Institute and commissioned by the BlueGreen Alliance, shows that innovation in sustainable chemistry can reverse the industry’s job shedding trend in a market that increasingly requires cleaner, safer production. Read more.