In December 2015, the United States Senate voted unanimously in favour of passing S.697 (the Frank R Lautenberg Chemical Safety of the 21st Century Act) for reform to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The overall intention of the reform is to better protect human health and the environment from unsafe chemicals. Consumer safety groups acknowledge the change is largely for the better, with new provisions that give the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) power to work directly with companies by ordering tests and imposing restrictions if necessary. Other key additions include:
- An enforceable schedule for EPA chemical reviews
- Collection of fees from industry for funding of the work of the EPA.
- A priority on assessing persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals and on specific vulnerable groups
The Senate bill will now be reconciled with the House of Representative’s TSCA reform bill (H.R. 2576, the TSCA Modernization Act) which was passed in June 2015. It is expected that the reconciled bill will be signed into law by the President in early 2016.