The benefits of chemical substitution go beyond safety, and a strong business case can be made that its benefits include productivity improvement, as demonstrated in a 2008 AIHA study.

TSCA Reform Bill Passed By Congress

The long-delayed bill overhauling the Toxic Substances Reform Act is heading to President Obama’s desk for his signature.

A long-delayed bill that will overhaul the Toxic Substances Reform Act, updating the country's standards for chemical safety, passed the U.S. Senate on June 7 and is headed to the desk of President Obama for his signature. Senate passage of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act came by a voice vote two weeks after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill, but a decade has passed since some in Congress began working on the measure.

It gives EPA new regulatory power over thousands of chemicals, including new ability to order testing. "This is long overdue. All stakeholders across the political spectrum agreed for decades that this aspect of the law needed to be updated," said Sen. David Vitter, R-La., a lead sponsor of the bill. "We needed to fully protect public health and safety, which we all want to do. We also needed to ensure that American companies, which are world leaders today in science, research, and innovation, remain so and do not get put behind by a regulatory system which is overly burdensome and unworkable."

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is the lead Democratic sponsor of the bill. He said the old law was inadequate. "Most Americans believe that when they buy a product at the hardware store or the grocery store, that product has been tested and determined to be safe. But that isn't the case. Americans are exposed to hundreds of chemicals from household items," he said.

Udall became the main Democratic sponsor in 2013, after the death of then-Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat who made passing chemical reform his top priority for several years.

"Today's victory is a culmination of years of hard work and dedication from both sides, and I know that the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act will provide the real reforms necessary to fulfilling Frank's legacy," Vitter said. "After four decades of living under a stagnant chemical safety law, I am so very glad to have passed a law that strengthens our country's international competitiveness, provides desperately needed regulatory certainty for industry, and mandates that the federal government use better science and provide more transparency. This law will be a game changer for the safety of our families and communities and will help promote economic success in an industry that is of paramount importance to Louisiana. I know Frank would have been pleased with this huge historic accomplishment."

"Passage of this bill in the Senate means that for the first time in 40 years, the United States of America will have a chemical safety program that works -- that protects our families from dangerous chemicals in their daily lives," Udall added. "When this bill becomes law, there will finally be a cop on the beat. And I want to thank my partner in this effort, Senator Vitter, and all of the co-sponsors and advocates who have pushed to get this bill passed and sent to the president's desk. This is a historic day and a fitting way to honor Frank Lautenberg's years of work for a healthier and safer environment for our children and grandchildren."