Legislative efforts are underway in Congress to make significant revisions to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). If passed as currently drafted, TSCA reform will negatively affect chemical manufacturers and importers, as well as companies that process and formulate products. In short, TSCA will affect the adhesive and sealant industry.

"When" Not "If"

Both the Senate and the House are presently considering legislative language on TSCA. Senator Frank Lautenberg introduced a specific bill (S. 3209, Safe Chemicals Act of 2010), while Congressman Henry Waxman’s Committee on Energy and Commerce has circulated a discussion draft document (Toxic Chemical Safety Act of 2010), which has been reviewed by congressional staff, nongovernmental organizations and industry.

These bills are quickly becoming the single largest issue facing the adhesive and sealant industry, making TSCA reform a “when” not “if” proposition. The present language under consideration would amend the TSCA in some of the following ways:
  • Require manufacturers to develop and submit a minimum data set for each formulation they produce, and provide the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with authority to request additional information.
  • Require that a safety threshold is met for all products on the market and shift the burden of proof to manufacturers to prove the safety of their products.
  • Establish a public database to catalog information submitted by chemical manufacturers and the EPA’s safety determinations (already underway; see “Envirofacts” below).
  • Impose a five-year limit on the protection of Confidential Business Information (CBI). This could supersede patent protection, making CBI public domain much earlier.
The Adhesive and Sealant Council (ASC) is collaborating on this issue with many other allied chemical industry groups and trade associations to craft an industry response. While all of these groups are supportive of TSCA reform, they are all equally agreed that the current language in either bill would have detrimental results to U.S. companies. Potential effects could:
  • stifle innovation
  • move jobs offshore
  • establish a safety threshold that is unattainable
  • ignore current successful risk management strategies
  • force corporations to publish intellectual property
It is important for adhesive and sealant manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and others to put the TSCA on their radar screens and monitor it carefully. What is the ASC doing about TSCA?
  1. It is actively participating in a chemical industry coalition-Chemical Interest Group-which is developing collaborative strategies to respond to this challenge.
  2. It is increasing its outreach efforts with government relations contacts to communicate TSCA updates throughout the legislative process.
  3. It has established a TSCA communications page on the ASC website to keep members aware of the latest updates (member login required).
  4. It is anticipating a future need for ASC member support and is preparing for:
    • Outreach to Congressional representatives
    • Industry consensus on ASC points of view
    • Educating Hill staffers on ASC member company products

Legal Expert Offers Insights on July 14

Another ASC tactic regarding the TSCA is to educate individuals about the significant changes that are proposed and what those changes mean for their companies. The ASC has invited Mark Duvall, TSCA expert and attorney at Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., one of Washington’s leading environmental law firms, to present a comprehensiveTSCA Legislative Reform webinaron July 14 at 10:00 a.m. (EDT).

Participants will better understand how these new legislative initiatives are designed to address reform and learn insights into the concerns Congress has with the present system of chemical testing in the U.S. Mr. Duvall will also field questions about TSCA concerns after the presentation.

EPA Takes Its Own Approach on TSCA

While the TSCA legislation percolates in Congress, the EPA is taking its own path to increasing oversight of chemicals. Recently, the agency moved to increase public access to information on chemicals by adding more than 6,300 chemicals and 3,800 facilities regulated under the TSCA to a public database calledEnvirofacts. Envirofacts offers comprehensive information about chemical facilities, including:
  • facility name and address
  • aerial image of the facility and the surrounding area
  • map location of the facility
  • links to other information on the facility, such as the EPA’s inspections and compliance reports (available through its ECHO database)
In closing, TSCA reform and the EPA’s oversight of chemicals is clearly a priority in Washington. The suggested approaches would significantly affect adhesive and sealant companies and all of their product formulations. It is up to each of us to stay informed about these changes and work together toward a goal that enacts reasonable, scientific-based reform that modernizes the U.S. chemical framework in important ways, while retaining U.S. leadership in chemical innovation.

If you would like more information or have questions about the TSCA or other chemical reform efforts, contact the author at (301) 986-9700, ext. 112, or mark.collatz@ascouncil.org. To register for the TSCA Legislative Reform webinar, click here.