wk8_chemicals_policy_tsca - Lowell Center for Sustainable...

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1 The Promise and Limits of the United States Toxic Substances Control Act October 10, 2003 Since the 1940s, thousands of new chemical substances have entered the marketplace with little or no pre-market review or control. A substantial portion of these chemicals reached high volumes of production and use, without government intervention and often in the absence of any understanding of their potential adverse health and environmental impacts. The lack of government oversight of chemicals in commerce changed with the passage of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in 1976. Earlier regulation on clean water and air had addressed primarily wastes coming from production processes. These acts generally placed the burden on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish standards and demonstrate risks before acting. However, TSCA for the first time exerted government control over production and use decisions, affecting the types of chemicals that could be produced and limitations on their use. The Toxic Substances Control Act allows the EPA to regulate toxic substances in the broadest possible way, from outright banning of chemical substances to testing and labeling requirements. It is important to note that TSCA’s provisions apply differently to new and existing chemicals. A “new chemical substance” is defined as “any chemical substance which is not included in the chemical substance list compiled and published under [TSCA] section 8(b).” This list, called the “TSCA Inventory,” is a list of all chemical substances in commerce prior to December, 1979. All chemicals on the market prior to this date (approximately 99% by volume of what is on the market today) are considered existing chemical substances. These chemicals are considered safe unless EPA can demonstrate that they present an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment . While TSCA has had some successes in ensuring review of new chemicals coming to the market since 1980, its impact in terms of gaining information on the toxicity of chemicals and restricting existing chemicals on the market has been limited at best One University Avenue, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA 01854 USA Lowell Center for Sustainable Production
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2 The provisions of TSCA TSCA contains a number of provisions designed to address new and existing chemicals. The most important sections of TSCA include the following: Section 5: Prohibits the manufacture, processing, or import of a “new chemical substance” or “significant new use” of an existing substance unless a premanufacture notification (PMN) is submitted to EPA at least 90 days before the commencement of manufacture or processing. The PMN contains information on the chemical identity, physical characteristics, processing and use, and available toxicity data. During this 90- day period, EPA reviews the chemical’s human and environmental risks and exposures, examining the data submitted in addition to other information. EPA can then request
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wk8_chemicals_policy_tsca - Lowell Center for Sustainable...

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