On Wednesday, U.S. Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and David Vitter (R-LA) announced a groundbreaking, bipartisan agreement to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and ensure the safety of everyday consumer products to better protect American families. Their legislation would significantly update and improve TSCA, which has proven ineffective and is criticized by both the public health community and industry. The Lautenberg-Vitter legislation would, for the first time, ensure that all chemicals are screened for safety to protect public health and the environment, while also creating an environment where manufacturers can continue to innovate, grow, and create jobs.
Under current law, the EPA can call for safety testing only after evidence surfaces demonstrating a chemical may be dangerous. As a result, EPA has only been able to require testing for roughly 200 of the more than 84,000 chemicals currently registered in the United States, and has been able to ban only five dangerous substances since TSCA was first enacted in 1976. These shortfalls led the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to identify TSCA as a “high risk” area of the law in 2009.