Toxic Substances Control Act

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted on October 11, 1976, and signed into law by President Gerald Ford. Under its provisions, the EPA has compiled a list of over 84,000 regulated chemicals. That list increases, on average, by about 1,000 chemicals each year. TSCA has been amended three times, resulting in a total of four titles:

  1. Control of Toxic Substances;
  2. The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act;
  3. The Indoor Radon Abatement Act;
  4. The Lead-based Paint Exposure Reduction Act. 

The scope of Vanguard’s work in behalf Industry centers on number one above: the Control of Toxic Substances. TSCA requires manufacturers to provide data on the health and environmental effects of chemical substances and mixtures and gives EPA comprehensive authority to regulate the manufacture, use, distribution in commerce and disposal of chemical substances. TSCA defines "manufacture" as not only the traditional notions of manufacturing, processing and production, but also the distribution and importation of regulated chemical substances or mixtures. In practice, EPA interprets the term to apply to persons who purchase a chemical and hold it for purposes of later distribution.

Of far-reaching importance to Industry are the dramatic changes to Sec. 8(a). Historically called the Inventory Update Rule (IUR), this section is now titled “Chemical Data Reporting” (CDR). Under CDR, EPA requires covered facilities to submit information on the manufacture, processing and use of commercial chemical substances and mixtures on the TSCA Chemical Substance Inventory, including production volumes, manufacturing sites and how such toxics are used. CDR is reported during the submission period in 4-year cycles for the previous set of years, the most recent of which is 2016-2019..

A critical reporting deadline for CDR was, therefore, the designated submittal period from June 1, 2020 to November 30, 2020 (ultimate deadline delayed due to the COVID pandemic). Reporting is triggered if the annual reporting threshold is met during any of the calendar years since the last principal reporting year. In general, the reporting threshold remains 25,000 lbs. annual usage for the previous calendar year(s) on a “per site” basis. However, a reduced reporting threshold (2,500 lbs!) now applies to chemical substances subject to certain TSCA actions. There is no longer a different reporting threshold for processing and use information, having expired after the 2012 CDR reporting period. Annual-usage thresholds and the due diligence essential for a facility’s reporting applicability determination, must encompass studies for the calendar years of 2016, ‘17, ‘18 and ‘19. Should thresholds be exceeded for either 25,000 lbs. or 2,500 lbs. (based on TSCA actions), CDR reporters must now submit applicable data elements for all four calendar years at each site at which the annual production volume meets or exceeds thresholds for at least one calendar year.

In addition to CDR requirements above, a currently trending proposal by EPA is the inclusion of reporting and recordkeeping requirements under TSCA Sec. 8(a) for 170 nanoscale materials, or very, very small toxic materials. For example, a nanometer is 80,000 to 100,000 times less than the width of a human hair. It is certain that CDR Reporting will soon encompass reporting schemes for nanomaterials.