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Basic Information

Core Principles, New Approach
For Chemical Management

On September 29, 2009, former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson released a set of core principles to strengthen U.S. chemical management laws, and announced a comprehensive approach to enhance chemical management under existing laws.

The Bigger Picture

Chemicals surround us. They are a part of everyday objects from toothbrushes to baby teethers, plastic forks to furniture, kettles to computers - things that comprise much of modern living. But chemicals can also pose potential risks. Manufacturing consumer products creates emissions that can enter the air we breathe and the water we drink. When we throw these products away, they can contaminate our land or, if incinerated, our air. OPPT works to prevent harmful chemicals from entering the marketplace and to ensure that existing chemicals do not harm public health or the environment.

Pesticides are regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Read more about how EPA regulates pesticides.

The Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) was formed in 1977 with the primary responsibility for administering the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) (PDF) (106 pp., 263KB, about PDF) (TSCA Summary). The laws goal is to ensure that chemicals sold and used in the United States do not pose an unreasonable risk to human health and the environment.   The law covers production and distribution of commercial and industrial chemicals.   Under TSCA, EPA has established reporting, record-keeping, testing, and control-related requirements for new and existing chemicals.

With enactment in 1990 of the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA) (PDF) , (10 pp., 39KB, about PDF) (PPA Summary) the office's responsibilities expanded. This law established pollution prevention as the national policy for controlling industrial pollution at its source -- in other words, to keep pollutants from getting to the environment. EPA works to reduce pollution before it occurs by supporting innovative changes in the production and use of raw materials.

As emerging technologies, such as biotechnology and nanotechnology, changed the types of materials used in commerce and present in the environment, OPPT's purview enlarged again. To meet the challenges of its diverse and broadening responsibilities, OPPT has strong scientific and technical capabilities, with expertise in areas such as hazard, exposure and risk assessment, chemical testing, structure-activity relationship analysis, economic and cost benefit analysis, chemical technology and pollution prevention.

The office has developed two roles: One is to serve as a gatekeeper/guardian, using its regulatory authorities granted by Congress to keep potentially risky new chemicals out of the market while assessing and managing the potential risks of existing chemicals. The other -- which is newer and expanding -- 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 enable industry and the public to make wise chemical choices. OPPT works in both areas internationally to confront chemical risks that cross national boundaries.

In support of EPA's mission, our office goals include:

OPPT wide-ranging programs include:

For additional information:

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