Lauren Trevisan


Expressing its concern about growing rates of cancer and other diseases, coupled with the lack of data about the effect of the thousands of chemicals used in U.S. society, in 1976 Congress enacted the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Congress intended for TSCA to shed new light on chemical risks and provide the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with a set of tools to address those risks and protect human health and the environment. In the years since TSCA’s passage, the procedural hurdles and the difficult-to-meet legal standards built into the statute, along with a court decision rejecting EPA’s use of its authority to ban dangerous chemicals, have impeded EPA’s ability to regulate chemical use and manufacture. This Comment argues that both the EPA and state governments have the authority to act now to address the risks posed by dangerous chemicals. By utilizing certain sections of the statute in new and aggressive ways, EPA can effectively address chemical risks. Further, this Comment argues that TSCA’s preemption provision affords states leeway to continue to regulate the use of chemicals within their borders. Though reform of TSCA is necessary, EPA and states can effectively protect against chemical risks in the near-term by using the full extent of their authority under the current law.