TSCA: An Overview

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TSCA: An Overview

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was passed in 1976, giving the EPA power to evaluate potential risks from chemical substances. In addition to reporting and recordkeeping requirements, the regulations created restrictions on the production, distribution, and disposal of potentially harmful chemicals.

TSCA is the United States’ main law regarding the management of chemicals, although it excludes some substances, including pesticides, food, drugs, and cosmetics. Examples of the chemicals specifically addressed in TSCA include asbestos, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), formaldehyde, radon, mercury, and lead (in paints).

Some of the authorities given to the EPA through TSCA include:

  • Maintaining a toxic substance inventory, adding new chemicals whenever they are first produced or imported (this list currently contains over 80,000 chemicals).
  • Requiring a pre-manufacturing notification before new substances can be produced.
  • Issuing SNURs (Significant New Use Rules) for a new use of an existing substance that is potentially harmful. The EPA can then use this action to require specific documentation and reporting of the new uses of the chemicals if they find the volume manufactured, exposure changes, or differences in production, distribution, or disposal significant. Chemicals subject to SNURs are marked with an “S” in the toxic substance inventory.
  • Restricting the importation and exportation of chemical substances.
  • Reducing exposure to Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBT) Chemicals under TSCA Section 6(h)
  • Requiring reporting of adverse effects of chemicals under TSCA Section 8(c).
  • Requiring reporting for “substantial risk” chemicals under TSCA Section 8(e).


Since its adoption, TSCA has undergone many changes and improvements, as knowledge of the risks of both existing and newly manufactured chemicals has grown. Most recently, in December of 2023, the EPA prioritized the evaluation of five chemicals under TSCA, including acetaldehyde, acrylonitrile, benzenamine, vinyl chloride, and 4,4’-methylene bis(2-chloroaniline).

Now we have looked at what chemicals EPA regulates under TSCA, but what do these regulations mean for your organization?

If your facility produces, imports, uses, or disposes of regulated chemical substances, you may be required to report these chemicals to the EPA. The Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule mandates that companies report their chemical substance data electronically through CDX and the Central Data Exchange system.

TSCA may be complicated, but your chemical inventory doesn’t have to be. Chemical Safety Software (CSS) can help organize your inventory so that you’re ready for any reporting that might be required.

Check back next month to learn more about EPA chemical management regulations, specifically the Clean Air Act Risk Management Program (RMP).

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