Linda-Jo Schierow Specialist in Environmental Policy
report summarizes the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the major
regulatory programs dealing with chemical production and distribution in
U.S. commerce. The text is excerpted, with minor modifications, from the
corresponding chapter of CRS Report RL30798, Environmental Laws:
Summaries of Major Statutes Administered by the Environmental Protection Agency,
coordinated by David M. Bearden, which summarizes more than a dozen
environmental statutes. Issues related to TSCA implementation are
addressed in CRS Report RL34118, The Toxic Substances Control Act
(TSCA): Implementation and New Challenges, by Linda-Jo Schierow.
The President’s Council on Environmental Quality proposed comprehensive federal
legislation in 1971 to identify and control potentially dangerous
chemicals in U.S. commerce that were not adequately regulated under other
environmental statutes. President Ford signed TSCA into law on October 11,
1976. Subsequently, five titles were added to address specific concerns—asbestos
in 1986 (Title II, P.L. 99-519), radon in 1988 (Title III, P.L. 100-551),
lead in 1992 (Title IV, P.L. 102-550), environmental and energy issues in
schools in 2007 (Title V, P.L. 110-140), and formaldehyde emissions from
composite wood products in 2010 (Title VI, P.L. 111-199). In 2008, Congress
added provisions to Title I, Section 6 and Section 12, banning certain
activities with respect to elemental mercury (P.L. 110-414).
TSCA authorizes EPA to identify potentially dangerous chemicals in U.S.
commerce that should be subject to federal control. The act authorizes EPA
to gather and disseminate information about production, use, and possible
adverse effects to human health and the environment of existing chemicals,
and to issue “test rules” that require manufacturers and processors of
potentially dangerous chemicals to conduct and report the results of
scientific studies to fill information gaps. For chemicals new to U.S.
commerce, TSCA requires pre-market screening and regulatory tracking of
new chemical products.
If EPA identifies unreasonable risks associated with existing or new chemicals,
TSCA requires the agency to initiate rulemaking to reduce risks to a
reasonable level. EPA may regulate the manufacture, importation,
processing, distribution, use, and/or disposal of chemicals. TSCA provides
a variety of regulatory tools to EPA, ranging in severity from a total ban on
production, import, and use to a requirement that a product must bear a
warning label at the point of sale. However, TSCA directs EPA to use the
least burdensome option that can reduce risk to a level that is
reasonable, given the benefits provided by the chemical product or process.
Title I of the original statute establishes the core program, directs EPA to
control risks from polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and bans certain
activities with respect to elemental mercury. Title II directs EPA to set
standards for asbestos mitigation in schools and requires asbestos contractors
to be trained and certified. Title III directs EPA to provide technical
assistance to states that choose to support radon monitoring and control.
Title IV provides similar assistance with respect to abatement of
lead-based paint hazards. Title V addresses environmental issues at schools,
including energy efficiency. Finally, Title VI directs EPA to set standards for
emissions of formaldehyde from composite wood products.
Date of Report: April 1, 2013
Number of Pages: 19 Order Number: RL31905 Price: $29.95
For email and phone orders, provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card
number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail
or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.