On May 24 the US House of Representatives passed a final bill to amending the nation’s chemical safety laws and on June 7 the Senate followed suit. After years of debate and negotiations to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), a bill is on its way to the President. He is expected to sign it into law.

Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow released the following statement:

The bill, though much improved from previous drafts, is problematic in many ways. Though many states have led the way on chemical safety, it ultimately blocks proactive action by state regulators to safeguard residents from toxic chemicals early in the Environmental Protection Agency’s safety assessment process. Many states have built protective precedents which mobilize broad movement at the national level. Unfortunately, this bill leaves less room for states to continue to innovate. The bill also removes key tools for EPA to shield Americans from imported products containing hazardous chemical ingredients. Furthermore, it only requires EPA to initiate 10 Risk Evaluations this year and be working on 20 at a time as of the end of 2018; with over 60,000 chemicals in commerce that’s not a fast timeline.

“The bill passed by the Senate addresses some core weaknesses of our outdated chemical safety laws – but it further restricts states, narrowing their ability to protect people from chemical health threats,” said Cindy Luppi of Clean Water Action, who represented Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow in national campaign discussions throughout the process. “We’re disappointed — this legislation creates regulatory holes that may leave state residents unprotected while the EPA conducts studies on a potentially hazardous chemical.”

The bill does make some vital improvements. Provisions that trigger earlier review of the most hazardous chemicals (PBTs, or persistent, bio-accumulative toxins) are welcome, as is the explicit consideration of the needs of populations most vulnerable to toxic chemical exposure. The Senate bill also “grandfathers” all important state laws passed before 2003 such as California’s Proposition 65 and the Massachusetts Toxic Use Reduction Act. For laws passed between 2004 and 2016, regulations finalized by April 22, 2016 are grandfathered in as well. In addition, it provides important windows of opportunity for state action on chemicals like toxic flame retardants, allowing pending bills in Massachusetts and other states to move forward without swift preemption.

Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow thanks all who successfully negotiated for these improvements, but cannot support the final bill.

For more details about the bill and most current information visit Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.

(Posted on Jun 9, 2016)