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EPA Research Continues to Provide Vital Research to Support Toxic Substances Control Act

Image of pipette and chemical testing tube with chemical figures written in background and a corner of the periodic table also showing.Published September 1, 2020

In  2016, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act was passed, amending the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Nation’s primary chemical management law, for the first time in 40 years. The amended TSCA included advances such as: mandatory requirements for EPA to evaluate existing chemicals with clear and enforceable deadlines, risk-based chemical assessments, increased public transparency for chemical information, and a consistent source of funding for EPA to carry out its responsibilities under the new law.

EPA scientists are working to ensure the Agency’s implementation of TSCA is supported by sound science. Our scientists are providing support for several important TSCA activities including: the development of New Approach Methods for alternative toxicity testing; implementing approaches for chemical pre-prioritization; improving exposure assessment for new and existing chemicals; and supporting ongoing chemical assessments.

The TSCA inventory contains 86,405 chemicals of which 41,587 are active in U.S. commerce and EPA scientists are generating toxicity and exposure data on selected subsets of these chemicals to improve future screening and prioritization activities. EPA’s chemical safety research also helps to support the TSCA New Chemicals Review Program by generating data for occupational exposure scenarios and chemicals in consumer products.

Under TSCA, EPA is directed to reduce and replace the use of vertebrate animals. This work also supports the September 2019 EPA Administrator Memo advocating the benefits of new approach methods for predicting potential hazards without the use of traditional methods that rely on animal testing. To accomplish this, EPA scientists are developing New Approach Methods that can quickly and efficiently evaluate thousands of chemicals for potential risk using in vitro (cell based) or in silico (computer based) methods that do not require the use of live animals. This June, EPA released a work plan outlining how EPA is prioritizing agency efforts and resources toward activities that will reduce the use of animal testing while continuing to protect human health and the environment.

To help ensure transparency and provide access to relevant chemical information, EPA scientists are integrating chemical information into the CompTox Chemicals Dashboard. The Dashboard is a one stop shop for chemistry, toxicity and exposure information for ~900,000 chemicals and contains data and models that can be used to identify chemicals most in need of further testing which can help reduce the use of animals in chemical testing.

EPA scientists continue working hard to prioritize chemicals for further testing and better understand the potential risks they may pose to human health and the environment. Through its pioneering work with New Approach Methods, EPA is revolutionizing chemical safety research and helping to realize a new future that does not rely on vertebrate animal testing.