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Introduction - What We Do

Strategic Plan

OPPT’s work contributes to two of the five major goals outlined by EPA in its 2006 - 2011 Strategic Plan:

Chemicals are in just about everything we use. Every day we are surrounded by chemicals -- in fact, the way we live would be impossible without them. Yet, some chemicals can be potentially dangerous to our health and the environment. It's the job of EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) to ensure that commercial and industrial chemicals manufactured, imported, or used in the United States do not pose any unreasonable risks to human health or the environment. And promoting the prevention of pollution before it occurs is central to OPPT's work.

Legislative Authorities

Tens of thousands of chemicals are manufactured, imported, or used in the United States annually. Many new chemicals are being developed each year, and emerging technologies, such as nanotechnology and biotechnology, are changing the types of materials used in commerce and in the environment. Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976, OPPT establishes reporting, record-keeping, testing, and control-related requirements for new and existing chemicals. Read about OPPT work under TSCA to protect against risks from new, existing, and specific chemicals.

Under the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA) of 1990, the office works to reduce pollution before it occurs through innovative changes in production, operation, and use of raw materials. Read about OPPT’s pollution prevention programs' accomplishments.

Two Different Roles

One of the office's major roles is to serve as a gatekeeper/guardian, using its traditional "command and control" regulatory authorities to keep potentially risky new chemicals out of the market while assessing and managing the potential risks of existing chemicals. The organization's other key role is to promote environmental stewardship and sustainability. OPPT does this through collaborative programs with stakeholders and educational initiatives. Working to eliminate sources of pollution, OPPT creates tools and makes information available to better enable industry and the public to make wise chemical choices.  See the new, existing and specific chemicals sections of this report as well as the pollution prevention and cross-cutting programs sections for how OPPT uses the two roles to promote chemical safety nationally and internationally.

Report Highlights

From January 2007 through January 2009, OPPT:

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