Toxic Substances Control Act



The "Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976" (TSCA) is the federal law that regulates the manufacture, importation, processing, distribution, use, and/or disposal of chemicals that present an unreasonable risk of injury to human health or the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers TSCA regulations.

The President's Council on Environmental Quality issued a report in 1971 that defined a need for comprehensive legislation to identify and control chemicals not already regulated under existing environmental statues. Bills were passed by both the House and Senate but controversy over the scope and costs stalled final action. Environmental contamination of the Hudson River and other waterways with polybrominated byphenyls (PBCs) and the threat of ozone depletion from chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs) led to final passage. President Ford signed TSCA into law on October 11, 1976.

Regulation of PCB products was included in the original TSCA legislation. Later additions were made to address asbestos (1986), radon (1988), and exposure to lead-based paint (1992).

Under TSCA, manufacturers must submit pre-manufacturing notification to the EPA prior to making or importing new chemicals for commercial purposes. The notifications are reviewed and if an unreasonable risk is identified production and use may be limited or it may outright be banned.

How BNL Complies

The Laboratory manages all TSCA-regulated materials, including PCBs, in compliance with all requirements. Capacitors manufactured before 1970 that are believed to be oil-filled are handled as if they contain PCBs, even when that cannot be verified from the manufacturer's records. All equipment containing PCBs must be inventoried, except for capacitors containing less than 3 pounds of dielectric fluid and items with a concentration of PCB source material of less than 50 parts per million. Certain PCB-containing articles or PCB containers must be labeled. The inventory is updated by July 1 of each year. The Laboratory responds to any PCB spill in accordance with standard emergency response procedures.

The Laboratory has aggressively approached reductions in its PCB inventory. By replacing and disposing of the last large capacitor and over 300 small capacitors from the Collider-Accelerator Department in 2008, BNL's PCB inventory has been reduced by more than 99 percent.

For additional information on BNL's compliance with federal, state, and local regulations please see Chapter 3, Compliance Status, of the 2009 Site Environmental Report.

Documents / Links

1975 Testimony on Need for TSCA

EPA TSCA Summary

The Encyclopedia of Earth TSCA Entry