Why GAO Did This Study
In 1976, Congress passed TSCA to provide EPA with the authority to obtain more information on chemicals and to regulate those chemicals that EPA determines pose unreasonable risks of injury to human health or the environment. GAO has reported that EPA has found much of TSCA difficult to implement--hampering the agency's ability to obtain certain chemical data or place limits on chemicals. Of the thousands of chemicals listed for commercial use in the United States, EPA has used its authority to limit or ban five chemicals since TSCA was enacted. In 2009, EPA announced TSCA reform principles to inform ongoing efforts in Congress to strengthen the act. At that time, EPA also initiated a new approach for managing toxic chemicals with the goal of ensuring the safety of chemicals using its existing authorities.
GAO was asked to evaluate EPA's efforts to strengthen its management of chemicals. This report determines the extent to which (1) EPA has made progress implementing its new approach and (2) EPA's new approach positions it to achieve its goal of ensuring the safety of chemicals. GAO examined agency documents and TSCA rulemaking and interviewed agency officials and stakeholders from industry and environmental organizations.
What GAO Recommends
GAO recommends, among other things, that EPA develop strategies that address challenges impeding its ability to ensure chemical safety and identify the resources needed to so. EPA neither agreed nor disagreed with GAO’s recommendations.