TSCA: The Civil Justice System Protects Americans When Regulations Fail and Agencies Cannot Act

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), passed in 1976, is our nation’s primary federal law aimed at regulating dangerous toxic chemicals. Unfortunately, the law has proven largely ineffective in keeping American families safe from the harmful and sometimes deadly chemicals found in our homes, workplaces, and communities. In the vacuum created by this historically ineffective federal statute, the states, their political subdivisions, and our civil justice system have collectively acted to fill the void and provide individuals the opportunity to hold chemical corporations accountable when their products cause injuries or deaths.

For more than three years, Congress worked tirelessly to reform TSCA in order to finally regulate chemicals that were completely unregulated for nearly four decades. On June 22, 2016, President Barack Obama signed the long-awaited TSCA reform bill, the “Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act” into law. This compromise marks a significant improvement over our current federal chemical regulatory system, and preserves the ability of states to protect their citizens from toxic chemicals. More importantly, the law ensures that Americans can continue to turn to the civil justice system if they are injured or killed because of the chemical industry’s wrongdoing.

“The American Association for Justice applauds the enactment of the ‘Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act,’” said AAJ CEO Linda Lipsen upon the bill’s signing. “It will better protect Americans from dangerous chemicals that pose significant and often deadly risks to human health and the environment.”

Trial attorneys have long been on the front lines of protecting the public health and safety. This is especially true when federal agencies are underfunded, have limited access to information or have insufficient resources to adequately enforce safety measures. When no one is accountable through the civil justice system, no one is safe.