11. What is the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976?
The Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) regulates the introduction of new and existing chemical substances into the market. The TSCA defines a chemical substance as “any organic or inorganic substance of a particular molecular identity, including any combination of these substances occurring in whole or in part as a result of a chemical reaction or occurring in nature, and any element or uncombined radical”. Many of the provisions of the TSCA focus on chemicals that pose an unreasonable risk of harm to health and the environment. The TSCA specifically prohibits the manufacture or importation of chemicals not previously registered with the TSA without notifying the EPA beforehand. Following notification, the EPA reviews the chemical to determine if it poses an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment. The EPA may ban production and importation or impose lesser limitations on its production and use.
• Note: Exceptions to the TSCA notification requirement include small quantities of chemicals used in research and development and items regulated under other acts, such as food, cosmetics, pesticides, alcohol, tobacco, explosives, and radioactive material.
• Discussion: Why do you think controlling the importation of toxic substances is of concern to the Federal Government? Do you think the definition of chemical substance is sufficiently broad? Do you agree that the EPA should be charged with determining whether chemicals should be admitted for importation?
• Practice Question: ABC Corp has subsidiaries in other countries that develop new products. ABC develops a new chemical used to remove paint from cement surfaces. The chemical is very caustic. What steps must ABC Corp take before importing the substance?