Strengthen Chemical Laws

For 40 years, the nation’s main chemical-safety law, the Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA, was flawed and ineffective. It did almost nothing to protect the public from the thousands of untested chemicals already on the market—and it allowed the use of thousands more new substances based on incomplete safety assessments.

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Recently, however, Congress enacted sweeping revisions to TSCA, providing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with additional authority that should make it easier for the agency to evaluate chemicals and restrict uses of those deemed unsafe. Unfortunately, the new law also weakens the authority of states, making it harder for them to restrict the use of chemicals. That’s why it’s more important than ever for the EPA to do its job.

NRDC is pressing the agency to implement the new TSCA in a way that will effectively protect public health and the environment. This means the EPA must make sure to assess chemicals and restrict their uses, especially to protect vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, children, and fence-line communities. The agency also needs to account for all potential sources of exposure to a chemical, whether it is being inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through our skin.

The new law allows the EPA to require testing and obtain additional information about chemicals. The agency needs to use this authority aggressively to fill any data gaps—it cannot simply assume that chemicals lacking sufficient information on toxicity or exposure pose no risk. And the EPA needs to adopt modern methods for assessing the risks—as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences—and stop relying on outdated methods or those championed by the chemical industry, which will exonerate chemicals as safe, leaving the public unprotected.

We also focus on eliminating exposure to chemicals in our food and household products under other laws, including pesticides, food additives, building materials, electronics, furniture, and children’s products.

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