The federal law that regulates new and existing chemical substances, including engineered nanoscale chemical substances, is the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). While there is much debate over how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should deploy its significant TSCA authority to address potential risks to human health and the environment posed by engineered nanoscale materials, there is no doubt that EPA is already doing so. This article provides a general overview of TSCA as it relates to new and existing chemical substances, and discusses how EPA may go about discharging its significant TSCA authority with respect to engineered nanoscale substances.
I. TSCA AND ENGINEERED NANOSCALE SUBSTANCES
Nanotechnology is the subject of considerable excitement and attention these days. The many articles appearing in technical journals, trade and mainstream publications, and in other contexts make it impossible to be unaware of the immense commercial promise offered by nanotechnology. Applications are proliferating quickly in diverse economic sectors, including chemical manufacturing, medical device applications, energy production, and transportation, among many others. Considerable attention likewise has been devoted to the implications for human health and the environment posed by engineered nanoscale materials and the critical need that governments globally get the policy and regulatory framework “right” to enable nanotechnology to realize its full societal value while at the same time effectively addressing pertinent health, safety, and environmental issues posed by this transformative technology.