Legislation proposing federal approval of chemicals has passed the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee. If this Safe Chemicals Act is passed by the full legislature, it would update the 35-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act and would require manufacturers to prove their chemicals are safe before being allowed to use them, instead of requiring that the chemicals have to be proven harmful before they can be banned.

According to a press release from democratic N.J. Sen. R. Frank Lautenberg — the senator responsible for proposing the act — the act would:
• Require manufacturers to develop and submit safety data for each chemical they produce, while avoiding duplicative or unnecessary testing.
• Prioritize chemicals based on risk, so that EPA can focus resources on evaluating those most likely to cause harm while working through the backlog of untested existing chemicals.
• Place the burden of proof on chemical manufacturers to demonstrate the safety of their chemicals.
• Restrict uses of chemicals that cannot be proven safe.
• Establish a public database to catalog the information submitted by chemical manufacturers and the EPA's safety determinations.
• Promote innovation and development of safe chemical alternatives, and bring some new chemicals onto the market using an expedited review process.

The American Cleaning Institute issued the following statement by ACI President & CEO Ernie Rosenberg in response to the July 25 mark-up of the Safe Chemicals Act by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee:
"ACI has been and remains committed to passage of legislation that strengthens and modernizes the Toxic Substance Control Act. We have been thoroughly engaged in bipartisan discussions to get us on that path.
"It is critical that any legislation enacted into law continues to enhance consumer confidence in a strong, reliable and credible federal chemical management program. We will continue our efforts to obtain a bill that protects product and process innovations without detracting from EPA’s ability to conduct a robust chemical management program.
"We recognize and commend the effort and engagement of many Senators on both sides of the aisle. ACI will work toward opportunities for all sides to come together for a bipartisan, bicameral bill that promotes the safe use of chemicals, enhances public confidence in the chemical management system, protects American jobs and maintains U.S. global leadership in chemical innovation."

Additional information about the Safe Chemicals Act can be found here.