It’s been more than 10 years since the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J) introduced his first of several bills to update the Toxic Substances Control Act to give the Environmental Protection Agency greater authority to ensure the safety of chemicals in commerce.

Last night the Senate passed by voice vote a bill to modernize the act for the first time in 40 years.

Key Points of the Bill

Some of the highlights, as outlined in a summary of the Senate bill, are:


  • a requirement that the EPA review the safety of all chemicals in commerce;
  • new chemicals must pass a safety check before they can be sold on the market;
  • an explicit requirement to protect populations whose exposures, age or other conditions make them vulnerable to chemicals;
  • new authority for the EPA to require companies to test new and existing chemicals for safety; and
  • EPA can retain enacted state regulations and laws for chemicals, but temporarily stop new regulations while the agency is assessing a chemical's risks.

Other provisions include minimizing animal testing, the establishment of a federal sustainable chemistry program, interim storage by mercury generators and a prohibition on the export of certain mercury compounds.

Next Steps

The full bill text and video of the vote are available here.