U.S. EPA Makes History with First-ever TSCA Active-Inactive Inventory

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March 5, 2019 - By Jomarie Garcia

On 19 February 2019 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) disclosed the results of the retroactive reporting exercise conducted on substances listed on the "Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) chemical substances inventory." Based on this exercise, the EPA authenticated the commercial status of chemicals manufactured, processed or imported in the U.S. that are subject to TSCA. As a result, the TSCA inventory was revamped with the inclusion of new "active" and "inactive" designations that describe the prevalent status of chemicals in U.S. commerce. The "TSCA active-inactive inventory" is now available for public inspection on the EPA's website.

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Overhauling TSCA

Enacted on 11 October 1976 TSCA aimed at filling a gap where existing federal laws had failed: regulating toxic chemicals. Novel and compelling at the time, the new law called for a profound understanding of chemical substances as they appear in commerce; the TSCA inventory was just one of many tools EPA had to achieve this goal.

Chemicals that first constituted the TSCA inventory were grandfathered-in, which meant that limited information was available on these substances. Since then, the inventory has grown dramatically in size but despite its rapid growth, the EPA still shared concerns on whether all of these substances had an active role in U.S. commerce.

On 22 June 2016 the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (LCSA) was enacted. LCSA intended to modernize TSCA, which meant strengthening its legal tools and rebalancing the burden of its obligations. Among these, revamping the TSCA inventory was defined as a top priority and a process was instituted to restructure the inventory. The process required that manufacturers (including importers) and processors validate and disclose the commercial status of chemicals they had been involved with over the last 10 years. The exercise concluded on 5 October 2018. Over the course of the next few months the EPA scrutinized information received to ascertain whether a reported substance was actively manufactured or processed during the period from 21 June 2006 to 21 June 2016.

Long-awaited Active-inactive TSCA Inventory

As of today the TSCA inventory has been reconstituted and depicts "active" and "inactive" designations. The EPA concluded that 47% of the 86,000 substances listed in the inventory are currently active in commerce. As a result these substances were designated as “active.” Substances for which no Notice of Activity Form A (NOA-A) was received were assigned an “inactive” designation.

Over 90,000 responses were received by the EPA leading to the collaborative effort of understanding the commercial status of TSCA substances.

Assessing the Benefits, an Ongoing Process

The adoption of a new TSCA inventory is a testament to the EPA’s claim that LCSA finally equipped it with the necessary authority and tools to conduct a systematic review for existing chemicals. Information received not only helped identify which chemicals are still actively being manufactured, processed and imported but drew a line of focus for prioritizing chemicals, and evaluating and addressing their risks. Hence, the EPA concludes that the new inventory will also help them to focus risk evaluation efforts on chemicals that are still on the market.

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Within 90 days of the publication of the TSCA inventory, responsible parties of substances that hold an "inactive" designation will need to submit a Notice of Activity Form B (NOA-B) via the Central Data Exchange (CDX) portal to change a substance's status from "inactive" to "active." 

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