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Chemicals: Scientific Review, Assessment

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) gives EPA broad authorities to protect against risks from chemicals, including authorities to collect and assess toxicity and exposure data on new and existing industrial chemicals and to develop policies and regulations on chemical-testing methods. The law also authorizes EPA to require manufacturers and processors to take risk-management actions to reduce “unreasonable” risks of chemicals of concern.

In addition, for the past decade EPA has been voluntarily receiving basic screening-level data from industry and making it available to companies and citizens to make wise chemical choices. And through its enhanced existing chemicals program, EPA is using information obtained from both regulatory and voluntary initiatives to evaluate chemicals of potential concern.

On this page you will find:

Scientific Review of Existing Chemicals

EPA's existing chemicals programs address pollution prevention, risk assessment, hazard and exposure assessment and/or characterization, and risk management for chemical substances in commercial use. The Agency uses statutory authorities, including the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA), as well as voluntary activities in its implementation of these programs.

Scientific Review of New Chemicals Under TSCA

Under TSCA, EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics reviews submissions of information on new chemicals to determine if they warrant prohibiting or limiting their manufacture, processing, or use. Because the submissions include little or no toxicity or fate data, EPA’s new chemicals program uses several risk screening approaches, including structural activity relationships, to facilitate assessment in the absence of specific data. This enables rapid evaluation of potential risks and making risk-management decisions for the new chemicals within the 90-day timeframe prescribed by TSCA.

Scientific Review of Nanoscale Materials Under TSCA

OPPT is evaluating and, where appropriate, managing the risks associated with engineered nanoscale materials. Nanoscale materials at dimensions of roughly 1 to 100 nanometers may exhibit novel properties that enable applications that differ from the same materials at a larger scale. A nanometer is about one ten-thousandth the diameter of a human hair.

On January 28, 2008, OPPT initiated a Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program (NMSP) aimed at gathering currently available information on NMs. Its goal is to help provide a firmer scientific foundation for regulatory decisions by encouraging submission and development of key scientific information, including risk-management practices for nanoscale materials.

Scientific Review of Biotech Chemicals Under TSCA

Also under TSCA, EPA is responsible for the safe commercial introduction of new or intergeneric microorganisms with industrial applications, such as bioremediation, or the production of specialty enzymes. Read about TSCA Biotechnology Program.

Testing Methods

To evaluate whether chemicals may pose unreasonable risks, TSCA gives EPA authority to issue data development regulations that require manufacturers and processors of existing chemicals to submit information on health and environmental effects of their chemicals. Read more about rules and policies that for testing chemicals.

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