TSCA reforms signed into law under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act

23 Jun 2016 by under Legal

Obama signs bill TSCA reforms signed into law under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century ActSince 1976, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) has been the root of countless health hazards, including more than 84,000 dangerous chemicals that have been allowed into commerce. However, after decades of hard work, President Barack Obama has signed into law extensive reforms to the TCSA that will allow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to better protect Americans’ lives.

Dubbed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the law represents the culmination of support from Republicans, Democrats, industry groups and environmentalists. The original TSCA failed to allow the EPA much needed investigative rights into chemicals, as well provide clear guidelines to those manufacturing and using chemicals.

A good example of a chemical that could be addressed by the new and improved TSCA is asbestos. For decades, asbestos has remained in thousands of common household products, from insulation and fire-proofing materials to automotive brakes and wallboard materials, thanks to failure of the TSCA. However, what many Americans forget is that when asbestos is broken or crushed, such as during a renovation project, its particles are released into the air. The inhalation or ingestion of these asbestos particles can lead to devastating health issues, such as one of the most fatal cancers– .

While asbestos will not be directly addressed by the new TSCA, it will allow the EPA to properly assess and determine the risks associated with asbestos. It could take as long as seven years for the EPA to officially ban asbestos, but the future is bright now that we are moving forward with chemical safety awareness and federal agencies will have the proper tools to address the problems.

“For the first time in our history we’ll actually be able to regulate chemicals effectively,” Obama said during the Washington, D.C., signing ceremony, where he was surrounded by numerous bill supporters from both sides of the political spectrum. “This been years in the making. You don’t get all these people in the same room without a few late nights on Capitol Hill.”

The revised TCSA ensures that all chemicals currently in commerce, both new and existing, must have their safety reviewed by means of a risk-based process through the EPA. The review process has been deemed by supporting parties as thorough and includes considerations for populations vulnerable to certain side effects. The EPA may also require the testing and information collection necessary to further its evaluation of the chemical. The bill even goes as far as to identify the EPA’s source of funding for carrying out its chemical safety responsibilities.

The act’s name comes from the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg – a Democrat known to be an active proponent of TSCA reform, but who failed to see the day it came to fruition. Sen. Barbara Boxer, one of the key leaders in reforming the TCSA, recently spoke out about the good news and offered her thanks to everyone involved in the TSCA reform effort.

Law 360
Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization

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