Toxic Substances Control Act Reform Bill Introduced

The subcommittee chaired by co-sponsoring U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., will hold a hearing July 29 on H.R. 5820.

Two Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a Toxic Substances Control Act reform bill July 22. U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush, chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection, and Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, introduced H.R. 5820, the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010, moving forward EPA's plan to reform its oversight of chemical safety.

"The introduction of this legislation marks a major step forward in our efforts to bring to current industry standards an important statute that, once it becomes law, will permanently shine the bright light of public disclosure on a range of chemicals that consumers encounter in a diverse array of products they use each and every day," said Rush, D-Ill., whose subcommittee has jurisdiction over TSCA enforcement and will hold a hearing on the bill July 29. "I appreciate the tremendous work, testimony, analysis, and public comments that a variety of stakeholders and consumer groups have shared as we've worked to craft a piece of legislation that both protects consumers while respecting the right of private industry to innovate while protecting businesses' confidentiality, trade secrets, and intellectual property rights," he added.

"Over the past few months, at the request of affected industries, Chairman Rush and I led a robust stakeholder process that involved a serious and candid exchange of views on TSCA reform," Waxman said." This process was extremely valuable and productive. Under this legislation, all chemicals will be reviewed for safety, dangerous chemicals will be restricted or eliminated, and new, safer chemicals will be developed more rapidly to move our economy toward a sustainable future."

The bill would amend the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) by:

  • establishing a framework to ensure all chemical substances to which the American people are exposed will be reviewed for safety and restricted where necessary to protect public health and the environment.
  • requiring the chemical industry to develop and provide to EPA essential data, as well as strengthening EPA's authority to compel testing where necessary.
  • ensuring non-confidential information submitted to EPA is shared with the public and critical confidential information is shared among regulators, states, and workers in the chemical industry.
  • creating incentives and a review process for safer alternatives to existing chemicals and a workforce education and training program in green chemistry.
  • promoting research to advance understanding of children's vulnerability to the harms of chemicals.
  • encouraging reduced use of animals in chemical testing.

For EPA, the bill would create an expedited process to reduce exposure to persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic substances; allow exemptions for chemicals that are already known to be safe; and direct the agency to address exposures in "hot spot" locations and to engage in international efforts to control dangerous chemicals.

According to the bill, EPA actions will be transparent, open to public comment, and subject to judicial review without unreasonable procedural burdens.

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