Bipartisan Bill to Reform TSCA Introduced in the Senate


Earlier today, a 16-member bipartisan group of Senators  lead by Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and David Vitter (R-LA) introduced the “Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013” (CSIA).  The bill would overhaul of the nation’s chemical safety law that would strengthen federal oversight of toxic substances used in commerce and empower the EPA to keep unsafe chemicals off the market.


The legislation is seen by supporters as striking a balance between strengthening consumer confidence in the safety of chemicals, while also promoting innovation and the growth of an important sector of our economy.


Lautenberg and Vitter were among a group of senators who negotiated last Congress in an attempt to reach a deal on a toxic substances overhaul.  When talks did not show progress, Lautenberg introduce a bill without Republican backing.  It won approval in committee but never reached the Senate floor.   The compromises to win Vitter’s support for the CSIA bill greatly improves the chances of the bill moving forward. 


IME is among the industry groups that support  the compromise as a significant step forward.


The bill would provide that:

  • All chemicals used in commerce would be evaluated for safety and labeled as either "high" or low" priority based on potential risk to human health and the environment. For high risk chemicals, EPA would conduct further safety evaluations.
  • If a chemical was found to be unsafe, EPA would be given the authority to impose safety requirements or, in some instances, order a full phase-out or ban of a chemical.
  • EPA prioritize chemicals for rules; transparency is required.
  • New chemicals entering the market must be screened for safety.
  • EPA is authorized to secure health and safety information from manufacturers, but first must rely on existing information to avoid duplicate testing.
  • EPA is required to evaluate the risks of chemicals to children and pregnant women. That's a new requirement, according to sponsors.
  • States and municipalities are given the opportunity to provide input on prioritization, safety assessment and the safety determination process. Their suggestions must get a timely response from EPA and there's a waiver process in which EPA can allow state regulations or laws to remain in effect when circumstances warrant.


Missing from the bill are provisions sought by environmentalists, including mandates for chemical companies to use “inherently safer” chemicals when EPA determined that they were readily available and could be used comparably to the chemical being replaced.