Toxic Substances:

Effectiveness of Unreasonable Risk Standards Unclear

RCED-90-189: Published: Jul 20, 1990. Publicly Released: Jul 20, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) efforts to control toxic substances under the Toxic Substances Control Act's (TSCA) unreasonable risk standard, to determine whether this approach has been effective in controlling toxic substances.

GAO found that EPA: (1) has completed 22 final regulations for controlling five toxic substances under the TSCA unreasonable-risk authority; (2) was required to consider any potential benefits from using a chemical and the economic consequences its regulation would have on the national economy, small businesses, and technological innovation; (3) did not have a system for tracking the progress of chemicals considered for control and could not provide data on the number of regulatory actions it formally considered under the unreasonable-risk standard; (4) made limited progress in regulating the commercial use of chemicals; and (5) required chemical manufacturers to test potentially harmful chemicals and develop data on health and environmental effects.

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