The recently passed Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act is a more incremental than radical change to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that it amends. Now, TSCA applies to all chemicals manufactured including those in use before its original passage in 1976, those introduced in the past 40 years, and all new ones.
TSCA has some gaps. Other agencies have priority in some areas. For example TSCA does not apply to substances when they are used as pesticides, cosmetics, or drugs.
As amended, TSCA mandates EPA action to evaluate and regulate existing and new chemicals at a glacial pace. Chemicals are developed at a much faster rate than the EPA is required to act on them. The EPA budget is unlikely to be increased on a scale that would allow it to study all chemicals. The apparent strategy is to use an evaluation process to focus on chemicals that are most likely to affect vulnerable populations, water supplies, and the environment generally. Regulators will also focus on prominent health affects such as carcinogens.
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