In 1976, Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). It was supposed to require companies to develop safety information for the thousands of chemicals that we come into contact with on a daily basis and to give government the power to regulate the dangerous ones.
Old law leaves public unprotected
Unfortunately, TSCA allowed the 62,000 chemicals in use at the time to remain on the market without testing. Since then, EPA has required testing of only a few hundred of those, and more than 20,000 new commercial chemicals have been introduced, the great majority with little or no health data.
Since the law's passage, EPA has been able to ban only one group of chemicals, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls, once used in transformers and electrical equipment)—and that only happened because Congress mandated the ban in the original law. EPA could not even ban asbestos, a known carcinogen barred in more than 30 countries. Narrow restrictions have been placed on just a handful of other chemicals.
The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 is largely ineffective when it comes to keeping consumer products safe for several reasons:
- the grandfathering in of old chemicals without requiring them to be safety tested;
- making it almost impossible to regulate even chemicals known to be dangerous; and
- allowing companies to keep most chemical information secret.
The Safe Chemicals Act (S. 847), introduced in 2011, puts our health first, by providing better information to businesses and driving innovation to avoid the use of toxic chemicals in everyday products.
Research found that 94% of Democrats, 77% of Independents and 70% of Republicans support legislation similar to the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010. Further, a total of 84% of those polled want tighter controls on chemicals, including 75% of Republicans and 82% of Independents.