TSCA Argumentative Essay

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In 1976, Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in response to a growing national concern about public exposure to toxic chemicals. Since then, it has largely been hailed as a failure for two reasons. First, TSCA has been unable to effectively compel producers to test and disclose adequate information on chemical toxicity. Second, it has been ineffective at designating sufficient resources to the EPA to identify and reduce the possible health and environmental risks associated with new chemicals. Nonetheless, it has been devoid of major revisions since its implementation. In the nearly 40 years of congressional inaction on this issue, many states have intervened by enacting stricter chemical laws that fill in TSCA’s gaps.…show more content…
Between 2002 and 2005 alone, the amount of chemical substances produced or imported in the United States increased from 42 billion pounds per day to 74 billion pounds per day. The amount of chemicals in commerce in the United States has increased from 62,000 grandfathered chemicals in 1976, to almost 83,000 in 2008, a difference of more than 20,000. Of this 83,000, the EPA has only been able to ban or restrict five chemicals under TSCA: PCBs, dioxin, CFCs, hexavalent chromium, and asbestos. Additionally, the EPA has independently tested only 250 of the 83,000 registered chemicals in commerce in the United States. Richard Denison, a Senior Scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund explained these incredibly low numbers by stating, “TSCA places an impossibly high burden on EPA before it can act to control a chemical.” In fact, under TSCA, “the EPA can’t even require testing to determine whether a risk exists without first showing a risk is likely.” For that reason, a large majority of chemicals used in the United States have never been tested for health and environmental effects. Studies have shown that due to the proliferation of these chemicals into homes, workplaces, and schools, the average American has a detectable concentration of 300 environmental chemicals. Among other issues, many of these chemicals can affect brain and organ function and cause cancer. Consequently, it is clear that
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