TSCA (toss-ka) stands for the Toxic Substances Control Act. Passed in 1976 under President Gerald Ford, it is our nation’s main law aimed at regulating chemicals used in everyday products. The Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition is calling for an overhaul of TSCA based on the law’s inability to protect the health of the American public from exposure to harmful chemicals. By updating TSCA, Congress can create the foundation for a sound and comprehensive chemicals policy that protects public health and the environment, while restoring the luster of safety to U.S. goods in the world market.
Why TSCA is flawed
- Americans assume that chemicals used to make products like toys and food containers sold in the U.S. are regulated and tested for safety — but they are not.
- When passed into law, TSCA approved more than 60,000 chemicals that were in existence prior to 1976; only 200 of the original 60,000 chemicals have been tested for safety; some uses of only 5 of these toxic substances have been restricted.
- Over 80,000 chemicals have been on the market and available for use since the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1976. EPA has required very few of these to be tested for their impacts on human health and the environment.
- TSCA allows chemical manufacturers to keep the ingredients in some chemicals secret — nearly 20 percent of the 80,000 chemicals are secret, according to EPA.
- TSCA makes it difficult for consumers and businesses to find the information they need to identify which chemicals are safe and unsafe.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tried to use TSCA to restrict asbestos 20 years ago and failed. It hasn’t tried since.
- Instead of requiring chemical manufacturers to demonstrate that their products are safe before they go into use, the law says the government has to prove actual harm in order to control or replace a dangerous chemical.
- TSCA perpetuates the chemical industry’s failure to innovate toward safer chemical and product design.
To read our position on proposed legislation, visit the Legislative Update page.