Will City Ordinances in Your Area Soon Overtake the Toxic Substance Control Act?

Toxic Substance Control Act
Cities are stepping in to fill in the holes left by the Toxic Substance Control Act.
Image Source: Flickr user University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment

When it comes to chemical regulations, the United States has some interesting dynamics. The overall rule of law regarding chemical regulations was dictated in 1976 when the U.S. Congress passed the Toxic Substance Control Act. However, critics of the law suggest that the regulation does not adequately address the present concerns of laboratories and communities, particularly in regard to chemical safety. As a result, many state and local governments have started to step in and pass more stringent rules regarding chemical regulations for their particular jurisdictions.

This battle between federal and local lawmakers was on display this week through comments made by the new governor of Texas, Gregg Abbott. In a speech to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Governor Abbott suggested that “Texas is being California-ized and you may not even be noticing it.” The Governor then stated that differing regulations passed by cities across the state is creating “a patchwork quilt of bans and rules and regulations that is eroding the Texas model.”

What the Governor is referring to is that many cities in Texas have started to adopt stricter regulations on a number of different matters, following the example of the state of California. For example, the city of Denton, Texas, recently passed an ordinance banning fracking within city limits. Others have passed ordinances regarding the distribution of retail plastic bags. And although no city has passed a law specifically restricting chemicals, the possibility exists that they might.

Unfortunately, this “patchwork quilt” that the Governor refers to appears to be the modus operandi for chemical regulations in the United States. Without clear direction from Washington D.C., the regulatory environment is left wide open for others to dictate. This failure on the part of the Federal government has resulted in the following:

  • State Regulations – Currently, four states have passed laws to supplement the Toxic Substance Control Act, including California, Washington, Maine and Minnesota. These regulations are particularly focused on toxic chemicals in consumer products.
  • Company Mandates – Large retailers like Target, Walmart, and Bed, Bath and Beyond have also started to dictate to suppliers the types of chemicals that products on their shelves may contain. If suppliers wish to have these stores distribute their goods, they will have to address the new restrictions.
  • City Mandates – Although no city has specifically attempted to regulate chemicals, they are flexing their muscle elsewhere. Given time, they may attempt to regulate chemicals as well.

Laboratories attempting to navigate this “patchwork quilt” face a difficult challenge, because regulations may differ depending upon the state in which they are operating or among regions where their products are distributed. However, the challenge should decrease when they implement a chemical management system.

With a chemical management system, laboratory directors have detailed access to chemical inventories. They can generate reports to ensure compliance, whether abiding by new state regulations or retail store mandates. The versatility of a system allows these laboratories to quickly work towards compliance, regardless of the laws or ordinances that are passed.

Until the Federal Government updates the Toxic Substance Control Act, chemical regulations within the United States will likely continue to be dictated by states, companies and maybe even cities. To navigate this “patchwork quilt,” smart laboratories will implement chemical management systems so that they can be nimble and respond to this ever-changing barrage of regulations.

For more information on BIOVIA CISPro and how it can help your laboratory navigate regulations across the country and the globe, please visit our website today.

One thought on “Will City Ordinances in Your Area Soon Overtake the Toxic Substance Control Act?

  1. I believe the California state regulations are too reaching as they are right now. Almost every restaurant i go into has a Prop 65 warning.

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