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Chemical Safety Research Advances in Support of Lautenberg Act

Published June 18, 2018

On June 22, 2016, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act was passed, amending the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Nation’s primary chemical management law.  The amended TSCA includes advances such as: mandatory requirements for EPA to evaluate existing chemicals with clear and enforceable deadlines, risk-based chemical assessments, increased public transparency for chemical information, and a consistent source of funding for EPA to carry out the responsibilities of the new law.

chemicals being mixed by a scientistEPA researchers are providing support for several important TSCA activities.  These activities include: the development of a strategy for alternative toxicity testing, implementation of approaches for chemical pre-prioritization, improving exposure assessments for new and existing chemicals, and support for ongoing chemical assessments. 

EPA’s chemical safety research is helping to ensure TSCA approaches are supported by sound science.  Since the implementation of the Lautenberg Act, EPA has met several key milestones and continues to move the state-of-the science forward. For example, EPA will soon release a strategic plan promoting the development and implementation of alternative test methods within the TSCA program. This document provides a strategy to reduce, refine and replace the use of vertebrates in toxicity testing, shifting to new approach methodologies that are better, faster, and less expensive. Developed by scientists from across EPA, the plan focuses on the use of new approach methodologies for chemical toxicity testing, many of which have been developed by EPA scientists.  

EPA scientists are also helping to develop approaches for chemical screening and pre-prioritization.  There are over 38,000 substances included in the TSCA active substances inventory and for many of these substances, information concerning chemical toxicity and exposure is incomplete.  Researchers are working to develop chemical prioritization approaches that will incorporate existing in vivo (animal based) toxicity testing results with newer in vitro (cell based) and in silico (computer based) toxicity evaluation methodologies. EPA is currently outlining the Agency’s chemical prioritization approach.  

As part of EPA efforts to provide relevant chemical information, the Agency continues to expand efforts to integrate chemical information from a variety of sources into a chemical dashboard, providing information on chemical structure, physical properties including persistence and bioaccumulation, toxicity, and exposure.  The resulting CompTox Chemical Dashboard currently contains information for over 760,000 chemical substances.

EPA researchers are developing new ways to identify which chemicals to prioritize for further testing, to provide better access to information about chemicals, and to understand what potential risks chemicals may pose to humans and the environment.  With the translation of this information for policy-makers and other stakeholders, a new era of chemical safety is becoming a reality.

Learn More:

Research on Evaluating Chemicals for Adverse Effects