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As reported in the Wall Street Journal late yesterday, the U.S. House has approved the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act by a vote of 403-12. The bill is poised to require an unprecedented analysis of many hazardous chemicals to determine their safety and environmental impacts. It would set new exposure standards for asbestos, styrene, formaldehyde, BPA, and other widely-used chemicals that have not seen adjustment to their regulation since the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act.

The Act also speaks to the ability of states to regulate chemicals with standards that go above and beyond federal rules. Under the Act, state chemical regulations in place on or before April 22, 2016 would not be able to be overridden by a federal law. Further, the Act also allows states to continue to develop their own regulations concurrent to the development of new federal rules.

The legislation is expected to be swiftly approved by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by President Obama. According to some sources, this could happen as soon as next week.

For EHS professionals preparing for the changes this bill would surely bring, a great first step can be to review your use of hazardous chemicals, and revisit the feasibility of replacing them with safer options or eliminating them entirely. A seamless electronic chemical management solution can be a powerful tool for doing this, allowing businesses to easily visualize exactly what chemicals they have, and in what quantities and locations, and easily search for less-hazardous chemicals that may be acceptable replacements for more dangerous ones.