Toxic Substance Control Act Reform 2016

danger-toxicIf you’re following chemical news, you may have heard that reforms of the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976 were just signed into law by President Obama.  A pretty concise summary of the changes in existing law is available here.

In very, very brief summary, the revisions to the TSCA passed in 1976 include giving the EPA authority – and a mandate – to test and verify more chemicals for their safety. It also gives the EPA some “teeth” when it comes to enforcing the regulations, gives them authority to collect fees, and pre-empts state law regulating chemcials at the state level (with some exclusions).

While the bill may have impact – probably major impact – in certain industries over time, the good news is that it is unlikely to affect soap and cosmetic handcrafters in the near future (and probably never).  Since the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry already uses extremely safe, often food-grade, ingredients, and stays away from toxic substances generally,  it’s unlikely that any of our “normal” ingredients would be regulated. It’s not like we use asbestos or pesticides in our products on a regular basis!

Of course, it is possible that at some preservatives (parabens come to mind) might creep their way up the list of chemicals of interest to the EPA.  And possibly some components of essential oils could be found at issue (similar to the allergens in the EU) might sneak onto the list.  However, it’s unlikely that they are very high up the list of “chemicals of interest”.

The new law requires that within a year the EPA must create a process for determining whether a chemical is “high priority” or “low-priority.”  Then they have to start evaluating the at least 10 high-priority substances within 6 months, and must complete evaluation of 20 high-priority and 20 low-priority substances within 3 1/2 years.  Of course, there’s a significant review process, public comment, arguing, etc before the final rules get approved and then there will be a time frame to allow manufacturers to implement changes.  Add to that the fact that the FDA will need to incorporate the information into their regulations … and it will be a while before the final effects of the TSCA reform hit the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry, if they ever do.

So, unless you plan to reformulate with asbestos, mercury, lead or arsenic in your cosmetics1, you probably don’t need to worry.

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1. Actually, cosmetics with these ingredients isn’t a complete joke.  They were actually commonly used in cosmetics 100 – 200 years ago.

Comments

  1. Thank you for keeping us informed as usual! Do you think this will finally put an end to the cosmetics acts that do impact us? It always baffled me why they would come after us when we indies are the “SAFE” ingredient users! And funny you should mention arsenic, I was making an apricot jam recipe by a well known and loved celebrity which used the pit nut, you cover the pit and smash it with a hammer to get the soft inner nut, I did this thinking i was going to add it to my jam, and it smelled heavenly! And wondered why I never knew of this before! But the scent was a gorgeous almond , so it made me think twice, anything smelling of bitter almond does because I know its a no no in bath and body products, ( as it says on all supplier sites for us Indies!) so I looked it up, and it IS arsenic! -lol So of course I did not add it to my jam, but funny even today that is recommended as the old french way of making Apricot Jam!!

    1. Author

      I expect that they will still work toward getting cosmetic laws updated. It’s all part of the move to make it harder to have and use toxic substances; that’s a lot of what the cosmetic bills have been about in the past.

      Yep … bitter almond. I thought that was cyanide. Maybe that’s from apple seeds (also very toxic, you know!)

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