How the Toxic Substances Control Act Could Impact Your Business

How the Toxic Substances Control Act Could Impact Your Business

Written by Ryan LeClaire

Published March 18, 2024

Katrina, the EHS lead of her company, has Google News alerts set up for several terms, including alerts for ‘Toxic Substances Control Act’ and ‘TSCA.’ It’s important for her to stay up to date on things that impact her organization's TSCA certification. 

One morning, she receives an alert notifying her that The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has officially raised user fees under the TSCA. She learns that the fees will nearly double for her company, meaning the leadership team will need to allocate more resources. 

Since Katrina's superiors at the C-level are not EHS experts like her, she decides to prepare a brief report to remind them of what the TSCA is and why it’s so important. 

The following are some of the key points her report includes: 

  • What is the Toxic Substances Control Act 
  • What is TSCA compliance and why is it important? 
  • How to comply with TSCA regulations 

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What is the Toxic Substances Control Act?

Let’s start with the very basics. What does TSCA stand for? It stands for the Toxic Substances Control Act. 

The Toxic Substances Control Act was enacted by the EPA in 1976 as a way to control the many chemicals that pose a risk to humans or the environment, such as: 

  • Asbestos 
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) 
  • Lead-based paint 
  • Radon 

It also gave the EPA the means and the authority to hold US companies accountable through testing, reporting, and record-keeping.  

Worker in suit mask and glove painting a car

The Toxic Substances Control Act history at a glance

The TSCA became law in 1976; however, it’s seen several changes over the years. It’s been updated with several important amendments, such as: 

  • 1986: Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act 
  • 1988: Radon Program Development Act 
  • 1990: Radon Measurement 
  • 1990: Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Reauthorization Act 
  • 1992: Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act 
  • 2007: Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Healthy High-Performance Schools) 
  • 2008: Mercury Export Ban Act of 2008 P.L. 110-414 
  • 2010: Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act  
  • 2016: The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act 

The EPA is also constantly updating the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory to address emerging threats. These updates typically roll out twice a year. 

What is TSCA compliance and why is it important?

Every industry has its own set of rules and regulations that companies need to adhere to. For example, a manufacturing company has to comply with Current Good Manufacturing Practice Regulations (ISO 55000, 55001, and 55002). A construction company needs to comply with Quality Standards for the Construction Industry (ISO 14001 and ISO 50001).  

However, TSCA regulations apply to nearly all industries as a way of controlling chemicals produced in the US or imported into the country. 

Compliance with TSCA regulations is an incredibly involved and ongoing process; however, at a glance, you’re reporting: 

  1. How do you document your company’s use of restricted substances in parts, materials, and products?
  2. How do you train your employees and communicate the risks?
  3. How do you communicate the presence of potentially harmful substances to the general public? 
  4. How do you evaluate consumables for use in your operations?

It’s also important to know that the potential penalties for non-compliance are very costly. Individuals could face a maximum penalty of up to $250,000 or 15 years in prison, whereas corporations could face a fine of up to $1,000,000 per violation. Falling out of compliance can also have a less tangible impact by damaging your reputation and causing you to lose future business. 

Are any industries exempt from TSCA regulations?

There are a few different types of products that are exempt from TSCA’s regulatory authorities.  

They include: 

  • Pesticides 
  • Tobacco 
  • Certain nuclear materials 
  • Firearms and ammunition  
  • Food and food additives 
  • Drugs 
  • Cosmetics

That being said, those industries are regulated by other federal agencies with their own compliance standards. 

How to comply with TSCA regulations

Like most important industry regulations, complying with TSCA regulations is an ongoing process, not a single event. You don’t so much achieve compliance as you maintain it. 

Your company needs to be constantly aware of any chemicals you use, manufacture, import, or export. And you need to carefully document everything so you can report it and communicate all risks. 

Three workers wearing construction hats looking at a laptop

You will be required to: 

Maintain complete records: This is one of the most challenging aspects, particularly when your company has multiple locations. 

Properly label your products: You need to provide up-to-date safety data sheets (SDS) that follow the TSCA guidelines, while also providing the proper hazard warnings. 

Provide complete training: Every single employee needs to be fully trained on the risks associated with handling your chemicals. They also need to fully understand their role in ensuring constant safety. 

Report adverse effects: If your company becomes aware of any risks to human health or the environment through the handling of your chemicals, you need to disclose this to the EPA.  

Provide export notification: If you’re planning to export chemicals that are listed by the TSCA, you need to disclose this information. 

Stay up-to-date on restrictions and prohibitions: As we stated earlier, the TSCA Inventory is updated twice a year and already contains well over 80,000 chemicals. Staying on top of this is crucial to maintain compliance.  

Simplify your TSCA compliance

EcoOnline’s chemical management solution is trusted by organizations in over 70 different industries. What can it do for you? 

Our robust software can empower you to take control and gain new awareness of your company’s chemical usage. It can simplify everything from data sheet creation and management, to chemical reporting. Find out how by clicking the banner below. 

Explore EcoOnline's Chemical Manager


Author Ryan LeClaire

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