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Congress Passes TSCA Environmental Legislation

textile chemicals

American consumers will soon be able to rest a little easier knowing that their goods are safer from hazardous chemicals.

The U.S. Senate passed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act Tuesday, following the House’s passage last month, and now it’s on to President Obama for a signature that will turn it into law.

An update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the act regulates the manufacture, import and processing of chemicals, and also strengthens the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to regulate potentially hazardous chemicals.

“This bill establishes a new national chemical management standard that protects consumers while providing regulatory predictability for U.S. apparel, footwear and textile companies,” AAFA president and CEO Rick Helfenbein said.

The reform mandates safety reviews for chemicals in commerce, requires a risk evaluation before new chemicals can make it to market, requires protection of vulnerable populations like children and pregnant women, and sets aggressive and judicially enforceable deadlines for EPA decisions and compliance with restrictions.

It will also make more chemicals information available to the public, demand greater transparency from companies about what goes into their goods, and require the EPA to reduce and replace animal testing where scientific alternatives are available.

The bill was originally introduced in 2013, and after much negotiation, a very revised version made an appearance last year, fueled further negotiations and ultimately attracted bipartisan support.

With a move toward greater transparency and avoidance of hazardous or harmful raw materials in the manufacturing process, the Act appears well-timed to advance this shift for apparel and textile firms, and yield safer products for consumers.

“At long last, EPA will have stronger tools to protect Americans from toxic chemicals that impact the health of millions of Americans,” the Environmental Defense Fund wrote in post on its site.