EPA Releases Major Update to Chemicals List

By: Stericycle

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a major update to its chemicals list, known as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Substance Inventory.

The list contains all existing chemical substances manufactured, processed or imported in the U.S. that do not qualify for an exemption or exclusion under TSCA. The list also plays a central role in the regulation of most industrial chemicals in the nation.

A key result of the update is that less than half of the total number of chemicals on the current TSCA Inventory are currently in commerce. Therefore, knowing the chemicals that are in use today allows them to be prioritized and evaluated and their risks addressed.

TSCA defines a “chemical substance” as any organic or inorganic substance of a particular molecular identity. This includes any combination of these substances occurring in whole or in part as a result of a chemical reaction or occurring in nature, and any element or uncombined radical, including:

  • Organics
  • Inorganics
  • Polymers
  • Chemical substances of unknown or variable composition, complex reaction products and biological materials (UVCBs)

Chemical substances not on the Inventory are those with uses not regulated under TSCA. The use of these chemical substances is governed by other U.S. statutes. For example:

  • Pesticides
  • Foods and food additives
  • Drugs
  • Cosmetics
  • Tobacco and tobacco products
  • Nuclear materials
  • Munitions

Another critical step is determining if a chemical is on the Inventory beginning to manufacture (as well as import) the chemical substance. Section 5 of TSCA requires anyone who plans to manufacture a new chemical substance for a non-exempt commercial purpose to provide EPA with a Premanufacture Notice (PMN) at least 90 days before initiating the activity.

Furthermore, companies using these chemicals must confirm with suppliers that the chemicals being received are designated as “active.” Manufacturing, importing or using (or placement on the market of a product containing) an “inactive” substance can incur serious penalties.

How can I remain compliant?

Stericycle Environmental Solutions helps safely manage chemicals found in academic and pharmaceutical labs, hospitals and research and development (R&D) operations.

Maintaining compliance and avoiding costly penalties and damaging regulatory violations requires consistent and comprehensive on-site service. Stericycle provides these services, as well as regulatory support, auditing support, employee training and program oversight. Find out more about Stericycle’s technical waste services here.

Additionally, a public version of the initial TSCA Inventory is available here.