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Toxic Substances Control Act about to be updated, after 40 years

By Deanna Utroske

26-May-2016
Last updated on 26-May-2016 at 15:24 GMT2016-05-26T15:24:55Z

Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to be updated after 40 years

Legislation to reform the act just passed the US House of Representatives. And if momentum continues, phthalates, formaldehyde, as well as other personal care and cosmetic ingredients will come under renewed scrutiny.

Proponents of cruelty free testing and consumer safety are eager to see the Environmental Protection Agency take a closer look at select chemicals and methods. Industry groups are signing on as well. The Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA), for instance, issued a press release “applauding” the House vote.

That group’s membership of chemical companies comprises Ashland, BASF, DeForest Enterprises, Lonza, and many others. SCOMA is grateful for “the leadership of [Republican] Congressmen Fred Upton and John Shimkus for their overwhelming success in improving the current law while recognizing the need to protect chemical innovation made possible by SOCMA's members,” says the release.

The group “looks forward to swift passage in the Senate and President Obama's signature on this final bill."

Unlikely allies

The Humane Society of the United States is similarly optimistic about the impending legal update to the TSCA. The reform bill includes provisions that would minimize how and when animal testing is used to evaluate chemical safety.

As the animal protection organization explains in its statement to the press, the bill under consideration “prioritizes the research and development of new testing methods and requires the use of existing validated alternatives to animal testing where available.”

The next stop for this bill is, of course, the Senate. And like SOCMA, the Humane Society is hoping to see it passed there and soon be signed by the President. “By minimizing animal testing and focusing on the use of faster, cost effective, and more reliable testing methods, private companies and the federal government can save lives, time and money,” the organization emphasizes.

Potential regulatory flags?

The reform would grant the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to decide whether potentially harmful commercial chemicals can be used in consumer goods. Tens of thousands of chemicals could fall under security, according to some reports.

And both the EPA and advocacy groups have singled out particular chemicals for review. Those include methylene chloride, phthalates, formaldehyde, and BPA.

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