Chemical Regulation: Options for Enhancing the Effectiveness of the Toxic Substances Control Act

GAO-09-428T Published: Feb 26, 2009. Publicly Released: Feb 26, 2009.
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Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in 1976, authorizing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to obtain information on the risks of industrial chemicals and to control those that EPA determines pose an unreasonable risk. However, EPA does not have sufficient chemical assessment information to determine whether it should establish controls to limit public exposure to many chemicals that may pose substantial health risks. In reports on TSCA, GAO has recommended statutory changes to, among other things, provide EPA with additional authorities to obtain health and safety information from the chemical industry and to shift more of the burden to chemical companies for demonstrating the safety of their chemicals. The most important recommendations aimed at providing EPA with the information needed to support its assessments of industrial chemicals have not been implemented--a key factor leading GAO in January 2009 to add transforming EPA's process for assessing and controlling toxic chemicals to its list of high-risk areas warranting attention by Congress and the executive branch. This testimony, which is based on prior GAO work, addresses EPA's implementation of TSCA and options for (1) obtaining information on the risks posed by chemicals to human health and the environment, (2) controlling these risks, and (3) publicly disclosing information provided by chemical companies under TSCA.

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