Chemicals

Does TSCA Apply to You?

What Is TSCA?

TSCA was enacted to address the increasing problems of toxic substances. Through the provisions of TSCA, the EPA can collect or require the development of information about the toxicity of particular chemicals and the extent to which people and the environment are exposed to them. Such information allows the EPA to assess whether the chemicals pose unreasonable risks to humans and the environment. TSCA provides the basis for EPA’s New and Existing Chemicals programs and the basis for national programs for major chemicals of concern, such as asbestos, lead, mercury, and radon, and the foundation for other TSCA programs, such as addressing environmental issues in schools, including energy efficiency under TSCA Title V.

TSCA Basics

Various TSCA sections provide authority to:

  • Require testing of chemicals by manufacturers, importers, and processors where risks or exposures of concern are found (Section 4) (15 USC 2603).
  • Require premanufacture notification (PMN) for new chemical substances before manufacture (Section 5) (15 USC 2604).
  • Issue Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) when the EPA identifies a significant new use that could result in exposures to, or releases of, a substance of concern (Section 5) (15 USC 2604).
  • Require reporting and recordkeeping by persons who manufacture, import, process, and/or distribute chemical substances in commerce (Section 8(a)).
  • Maintain the TSCA Inventory, which contains more than 83,000 chemicals (Section 8(b)).
  • Require that any person who manufactures (including imports), processes, or distributes in commerce a chemical substance or mixture and who obtains information that reasonably supports the conclusion that such substance or mixture presents a substantial risk of injury to health and/or the environment to immediately inform the EPA (Section 8(e)) (15 USC 2605).
  • Require those importing or exporting chemicals to comply with certification reporting and other requirements (Section 12(b) and 13).

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Does TSCA Apply to You?

TSCA applies to manufacturers, importers, and processors of chemical substances. TSCA covers any new or existing commercial chemical substances and mixtures. TSCA requires that the EPA be notified at least 90 days before the manufacture or import of a new chemical substance for commercial purposes. For the purposes of TSCA, a new chemical substance is one that is not listed in the Master File of the TSCA Inventory. These substances trigger the law’s PMN requirements, along with other TSCA mandates.

The EPA also has authority under TSCA to regulate specific existing chemical substances and mixtures that pose an "imminent hazard," such as asbestos and PCBs.


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Exemptions

The Act exempts certain chemicals that are regulated under other federal laws, such as firearms and ammunition. For example, the EPA does not have authority to ban lead ammunition, although it can ban lead fishing sinkers. Other chemicals are excluded from TSCA’s definition of "chemical substance." These include:

  • Cosmetics or devices
  • Drugs
  • Food and food additives
  • Mixtures
  • Pesticides
  • Radioactive material
  • Tobacco or tobacco products

See tomorrow’s Advisor to understand the notification requirements under TSCA when importing or exporting hazardous chemicals.