Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)

What is the objective of TSCA? Why you need to know about it.

men standing with drum of chemicals
andresr/E+/Getty Images

Are you an importer or exporter of chemical substances? Then you should read this article for information relating to the requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to learn what you need to do to move chemical substances in and out of the United States.

What Is the Objective of the Toxic Substances Control Act?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the objective of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is “to allow EPA to regulate new commercial chemicals before they enter the market, to regulate existing chemicals (1976) when they pose an unreasonable risk to health or to the environment, and to regulate their distribution and use.”

During a chemical’s life cycle, TSCA standards may apply at any point. If a chemical is not already included in the inventory list, and has not been excluded by TSCA, a premanufacture notice (PMN) must be submitted to the EPA before manufacture or import. The PMN must ascertain the chemical and provide all pertinent information on health and environmental effects. If the information is insufficient, meaning one cannot evaluate the chemical's effects, the EPA can impose restrictions pending the development of information on its health and environmental effects.

The EPA can also restrict significant new uses of chemicals based on factors such as the projected demand and use of the chemical. Under TSCA Section 6, here are a couple of things the EPA can do: ban the manufacture of or distribution in commerce, limit use, require labeling or place other restrictions on chemicals that pose unreasonable risks.

Among the chemicals ​that the EPA regulates under Section 6 authority are asbestos, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), lead and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). 

As the EPA site references: “For example, no chemical substance, mixture or article containing a chemical substance or mixture may be imported into the customs territory of the United States if it fails to comply with any TSCA rule or otherwise violates TSCA, a requirement under Section 13 of TSCA and 19 CFR 12.118 through 12.127.”

To learn how to certify your imports, visit TSCA Import & Export Requirements

This information is not intended to be a panacea for everything you need to know concerning specific legal requirements under TSCA. For that, you will have to consult with a good international attorney.  ​