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TSCA gets a facelift: 3 impacts on small businesses

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is a law that provides the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the ability to regulate new or current chemicals. This law first came into play in 1976 and has basically flat-lined in recent years.

This will soon change. Lawmakers recently passed a bill that is designed to bring new life to the TSCA.

Are these changes a big deal? In short, the answer is yes, these changes could be a big deal for small business owners.

The changes are touted as the "biggest overhaul of chemical safety laws in four decades" by Bloomberg. The EPA thus far has only regulated a reported five chemicals. The EPA will now be looking closer at even more chemicals, and the list of chemicals regulated by the government could expand at a high rate.

What should business owners know about this law?

Any business that works with chemicals under review by the EPA could be impacted by these changes. Businesses in this situation can benefit from the following information:

  • High priority chemicals come first. The EPA has a list of 90 chemicals that are considered "high priority." These chemicals are first to be reviewed under the new regulations before the federal agency will move on to other chemicals. Examples include bysphenol-A (BPA) and asbestos.
  • Cost of compliance no longer an issue. A second interesting change is the removal of the requirement that the EPA take the cost it would take for a business to come into compliance into consideration when making its determination.
  • Extended review period. The original TSCA provided the EPA with 90 days to review a chemical and determine whether or not it posed an "unreasonable risk." If issues were not apparent during this time period, the chemical would likely move forward. The new law allows for extensions.

Questions abound as to how realistic it will be for the EPA to actually review and regulate these chemicals. Some of the more notable questions involve concerns over funding to cover the costs associated with implementing these changes, which has faced cutbacks in recent years.

Ultimately, entrepreneurs can take these changes as a reminder of the complex nature of business. Conducting business in the United States can trigger laws in many fields, including standard business laws involving the rules of contracts and business formation as well as environmental laws, like the toxic chemical regulations noted above.

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