While consumers typically believe that anything they can buy in the store has been government tested for safety, that’s not always the case.
The Toxic Substances Control Act, the federal law that manages the introduction of new and already existing chemicals in commerce, has been in effect and essentially unchanged since 1976. Its original objectives were to: (1) regulate already existing chemicals that posed an “unreasonable risk” to human health or to the environment; (2) assess new chemicals before they enter the marketplace; and (3) regulate all covered chemicals’ distribution and use. However, the TSCA’s risk assessment methods are outdated.
The TSCA as it stands today allows chemicals to be used in consumer products without being proven safe, and it is seen by many as a wholly ineffective regulatory scheme. In March 2015, draft bipartisan chemical safety legislation aimed at amending the TSCA to better protect the public passed a Senate vote, and in May, a slightly tweaked draft cleared its subcommittee in the House of Representatives.
The bill is aimed at improving chemical safety while, at the same time, encouraging economic growth and innovation. Recently, the draft was formally introduced into the House, and the full House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to approve the measure any day now. H.R. 2576 is referred to as both the Udall-Vitter bill and the Toxic Substances Control Act Modernization Act.