Toxic Substances Control Act:

EPA's Limited Progress in Regulating Toxic Chemicals

T-RCED-94-212: Published: May 17, 1994. Publicly Released: May 17, 1994.

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GAO discussed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), focusing on EPA efforts to: (1) assess the risks of chemicals before and after they enter commerce; (2) control those chemicals found to be harmful; and (3) make information on chemicals publicly available. GAO noted that: (1) because of high legal standards, EPA has issued regulations to control only nine chemicals since the enactment of TSCA; (2) extensive use of TSCA is not likely as long as EPA gives preference to other environmental laws that provide limits on emissions rather than restrictions on production; (3) TSCA chemical information-gathering and control authorities are difficult to use and ineffective; (4) EPA has assessed the risks of only about 2 percent of the chemicals in use; (5) EPA review processes do not ensure that the potential risks of new chemicals are fully assessed before they enter commerce; (6) EPA may not be able to improve its chemical review and control procedures without shifting more of the burden to the chemical industry; (7) much of the information on chemicals cannot be disseminated by EPA because it is confidential; and (8) although EPA has successfully challenged the validity of some confidentiality claims, it does not have the resources to challenge a significant portion of claims.

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