Primer

TSCA Reform: Chemical Regulations, at a Cost

In a world where we can’t even ban asbestos, a new law revamps how the federal government regulates chemicals—but some worry it steps on the toes of progressive states.

Until now, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was the wobbly leg of the three-legged stool that is the core of our environmental legislation in the U.S. Unlike the other two legs—the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act—it hadn’t been revised for 40 years.

This legislation gives EPA the authority to issue regulations on all chemical substances and mixtures except for those used for drugs, cosmetics, foods, or pesticides. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has so far managed to restrict or ban just five existing chemicals under TSCA (polychlorinated biphenyls, fully halogenated chlorofluoroalkanes, dioxin, asbestos, and hexavalent chromium). The asbestos ban was largely overturned when industry supporters sued.

Published June 23, 2016