A New Wave of Chemical Regulations Just Ahead?

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Science  07 Aug 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5941, pp. 692-693
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_692

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In 1976, the U.S. Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act. TSCA led to restrictions on a handful of chemicals, including a ban on polychlorinated biphenyls and limits on certain uses of metalworking fluids, and in 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) used TSCA to ban asbestos. But because EPA couldn't convince a U.S. appeals court that banning asbestos was the least burdensome way to regulate it, in 1991 the court overturned the ban, and in the 18 years since, EPA has not banned a single chemical. TSCA's perceived ineffectiveness, combined with growing public concerns about chemical exposures, has spurred government agencies in the European Union and several U.S. states to launch their own alternatives, and Lisa Jackson, the Obama Administration's newly appointed EPA director, has listed reform of chemical regulation as one of her top five priorities. With such clear signals coming from a high level, there's a good chance TSCA in its current form will soon find itself phased out.