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®: CRE Regulatory Action of the Week

GAO Compares TSCA with REACH

The Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”) authorizes the US Environmental Protection Agency to control chemicals that pose an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment. The European Union recently enacted legislation known as Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (“REACH”) in order to better identify and mitigate risks from chemicals.

Senators Boxer and Lautenberg asked the U.S. Government Accounting Office to compare TSCA and REACH with regard to three issues:
  1. requiring chemical companies to develop information on chemical’s effects;
  2. controlling risks from chemicals; and
  3. making information on chemicals available to the public.

In August 2007, GAO published a report on its review entitled, “Chemical Regulation: Comparison of U.S. and recently Enacted European Union approaches to Protect Against the Risks of Toxic Chemicals.” With regard to the three issues, the GAO report reached the following conclusions.

First, REACH requires companies to develop information on chemicals’ effects on human health and the environment, while TSCA does not require companies to develop information absent EPA rule-making requiring them to do so.

Second, TSCA places the burden of proof on EPA to demonstrate that a chemical poses a risk to human health or the environment before EPA can regulate its production or use, while REACH generally places a burden on chemical companies to ensure that chemicals do not pose such risks and/or to identify measures for handling chemicals safely.

Third, TSCA protects more information from public disclosure than REACH does.

  • Click here to read GAO report