Four decades have passed since the introduction of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976. The TSCA was the US response to preventing the dispersion, use and release of toxic substances into nature and communities. However, the legislation has been highly ineffective and despite its best intentions, it is in need of an overhaul. Since environmental analysts recognized the shortcomings related to toxic substances innovative ways of remedying these issues have come into play. Part of the solution remains modifying the TSCA of 1976 to make it more conducive to maintaining the safety and well-being of communities and the environment. One of the major challenges remains asbestos, and it is this toxic chemical that chemical industry giants and lawmakers are seeking to get a grip on.
Two US Senators – Chris Coons and Tom Carper are collaborating on legislation to reform the TSCA. Many everyday products and cleaning compounds are unsafe for domestic consumption in the US, ranging from toys to detergents. The concern is what will transpire if harmful substances begin to pollute waterways, lakes, dams et al. These chemicals have the potential to affect the habitat of fish and wildlife, which invariably brings pressure to bear on people. Lawmakers recognize the challenges lying ahead, and they almost unanimously passed a reform bill by 398 votes to 1. Now the Senate must ratify the bill into law and perhaps then The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act will pass. One of the omissions from the latest bill is asbestos – a toxic chemical substance that is found in many products across the US to this day.
The Europeans are ahead of the curve when it comes to asbestos. The Australians too have banned this toxic chemical. In total, some 50 countries now prohibit asbestos from being used, but the US places the burden of protection on the consumer and not on industry. TSCA reform is now being targeted as the go-to piece of legislation that will move swiftly to place the responsibility of safety right back on industry’s shoulders. Asbestos is but one of many toxic chemical substances that are detrimental to people and the environment, but innovative ideas and wordsmithing can certainly craft a more safety-conscious regulatory framework to safeguard industry and the communities they serve.