While debate continues to swirl around whether, and to what extent, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) needs retooling, just about everyone agrees that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) needs more information on chemical production, use, and exposure in order to make informed decisions about chemical risk management. Most also agree that TSCA could be put to greater use for these purposes.
The information deficit exists in part because, historically, US EPA has not used its TSCA section 8 authority to require the submission of such information. This is changing, however.
On August 13, 2010, the Agency proposed its much anticipated TSCA Inventory Update Reporting (IUR) Modifications.1 As discussed below, the proposal telegraphs important changes that are expected to have a significant impact on industry reporting burdens. The modifications will also influence significantly how US EPA goes about collecting the information it needs to make chemical risk-management decisions.
Background: The TSCA Inventory
TSCA section 8 houses the statute’s reporting obligations. Under TSCA section 8(b), US EPA is required to keep and maintain a list of chemical substances manufactured or processed in the United States for commercial purposes. This list, referred to as the TSCA Inventory, is widely regarded as a critically important tool that the Agency utilizes to identify, prioritize, and evaluate chemical substances. The Inventory also enables US EPA
(as well as other government and private sector interests) to profile domestic chemical industry practices and business patterns in general.
The core Inventory reporting regulations were first issued in 1977, a year after TSCA was enacted.2 The original Inventory aimed to include all “chemical substances” (as defined by TSCA) that were then being manufactured, imported, or processed for commercial purposes in the United States (except for certain substances that were specifically excluded from the Inventory).
Initial Reporting Under TSCA
The initial reporting under TSCA occurred in phases. During the first phase, chemical-substance manufacturers and importers were required to report information on chemicals manufactured or imported after January 1, 1975, but before June 1, 1979. They had to report on chemical identities, production and import volume, and whether the use of the chemical substance was site-limited (meaning the chemical was consumed entirely on
Processors were exempt from the first reporting cycle, and special provisions/exemptions applied to manufacturers defined as “small.” During the second reporting phase in the latter part of 1979, processors were authorized (but not required) to report on chemical substances they processed that had not been reported by the manufacturer or importer in the first reporting phase.