What the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act Means for Your Practice

Online resource facilitates understanding of landmark changes to the EPA’s chemical risk review

There are few responsibilities more important to an architect or interior designer than specifying building and construction materials. The materials you specify are central to a building’s sustainability, operational performance, occupant comfort, and resilience. Likewise, the chemical products which make up those materials can promote sustainability, health and innovation, enabling green buildings.

Today, some of those products and materials may be impacted by a recent update to our nation’s chemical regulatory framework, overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and which you may have heard about recently.

Understanding LCSA

The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (LCSA) was signed into law in 2016 after passing Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support. In fact, it was the first major environmental law to make its way through Congress since 1990 – by a vote of 398-1 in the House and unanimous consent in the Senate – and was a critical update to the Toxic Control Substances Act (TSCA). Passage of LCSA was a major step forward in how we protect human health and the environment and enhance public confidence in the federal chemical regulatory system.

The immense bipartisan support behind LCSA’s passage was a watershed moment, and the result of years of work and negotiations between lawmakers of both parties along with diverse stakeholders from industry, environment, public health, animal rights, and labor organizations.

According to the EPA, LCSA improves TSCA in a number of ways, including:

  • “Mandatory requirement for EPA to evaluate existing chemicals with clear and enforceable deadlines;
  • Risk-based chemical assessments
  • Increased public transparency for chemical information; and
  • Consistent source of funding for EPA to carry out the responsibilities under the new law.”

Since the law’s enactment in 2016, EPA continues to meet key deadlines and requirements, including prioritization of and risk evaluations for the first 10 chemicals identified as high priority, and prioritization of the next 40 chemicals for evaluation. Meeting those statutory deadlines demonstrates EPA’s commitment to effective implementation of the law.

Bryan Soukup, vice president of government and public affairs at the American Society of Interior Designers, says the EPA evaluations should be welcome news for design and construction professionals. “Evaluation helps designers know that what they are specifying is safe and properly tested. It also allows industry professionals to consider new materials and perhaps even reconsider old materials now known to be safe because of advances in technology, testing, and manufacturing. The evaluations help balance safety with innovation.”

So, how does this multi-step, multi-year risk review process impact your practice and upcoming projects? What chemicals are under review? How do those reviews support safety, promote economic growth, and enable innovation? The answers to those questions, and more, are available online for the building and construction community.

An Online Information Resource

The American Chemistry Council, a proactive supporter of LCSA, developed an online platform providing in-depth information on the updated law, LCSAct.com. Here, you’ll find an assortment of valuable materials that will help enhance your understanding of this important regulation and its ongoing implementation. For example, you’ll find:

  • Brief videos explaining the EPA process for regulating chemicals
  • Diagram illustrating the EPA’s timeline and review steps
  • Fact sheet outlining objectives and benefits
  • Comments from more than 60 notable politicians and industry leaders
  • Full word-for-word text of the bill
  • Answers to frequently asked questions

What could it portent for the building materials you specify? We hope www.LCSAct.com will help you learn more about the law and its implementation.

For more information: www.LCSAct.com.