US Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S 847)

April, 2011

The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S. 847), introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg on April 14, 2011, to amend the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) was read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. Similar legislation to revise TSCA was introduced in 2010 and did not advance: the Safe Chemicals Act of 2010 (S. 3209) and the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010 (H.R. 5820). The bills outlined six broad reform measures. Chemical manufacturers would be required to develop and submit data to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine a particular chemical’s safety. The updated bill establishes risk-based prioritization categories so that the EPA can focus its resources on the highest-risk chemicals. It also requires chemical companies to initially submit basic hazard and exposure data to quickly determine the risk and assess the need for further testing or restrictions. Using the data provided by manufacturers, the EPA would identify “priority chemicals”. Chemical manufacturers would need to prove that their chemicals are safe before introducing them in the market, shifting the responsibility for demonstrating safety from the government (EPA) to industry. The safety information on chemicals will be made available to workers, chemical users, and consumers through a public EPA database. Claims by manufacturers of “confidential business information” would also be limited in order to assure the database is complete. Finally, the bill would promote green chemistry initiatives, encouraging research and development of “safer alternatives” to harmful chemicals. For more information, see the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition’s website.