California Environmental Protection Agency Department of Toxic Substances Control

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California Environmental Protection Agency Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is an organization based in Sacramento, California, United States. DTSC is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA). It consists of “Over 1,000 scientists, engineers, toxicologists, chemists, geologists, attorneys, criminal investigators and administrative staff…in eight California offices – Sacramento (2 offices, HQ and a field office), Berkeley, Clovis, Cypress, Chatsworth, El Centro and San Diego.” DTSC strives to research toxic substances to enforce public health standards across industries and other government agencies. This agency also restores and evaluates community sites for further development or protection.


“The mission of DTSC is to protect California’s people and environment from harmful effects of toxic substances by restoring contaminated resources, enforcing hazardous waste laws, reducing hazardous waste generation, and encouraging the manufacture of chemically safer products.”


“Californians enjoy a clean and healthy environment, and as a result of our efforts:

  • Communities are confident that we protect them from toxic harm
  • Businesses are confident that we engage them with consistency and integrity
  • Consumers are confident that we stimulate innovation in the development of safer products”

DTSC Action Initiatives

Cleaning up Contamination:

  • “Identifies and addresses indoor air contamination caused by contaminated soil or groundwater.”

Finding Toxics in Products:

  • “DTSC’s Environmental Chemistry Lab serves as the state’s reference lab for the analysis of toxic chemicals in soils, water, wastes, materials, and products that may harm public health. They solve chemical issues and develop methods and tests for chemicals in a wide variety of products, such as flame-retardants in furniture, lead and arsenic in glass bottles and beads, and toxic metals in treated wood.”

Safe Drinking Water:

  • “DTSC partnered with US EPA to develop a spacial geographic information tool that identifies areas of the state where it is expected that drinking water is or will be threatened.” This helps prioritize water quality testing.

Identifying and Helping Impacted Communities:

  • “DTSC uses CalEnviroScreen, a first-in-the-nation environmental health screening tool developed by CalEPA, to identify communities in California that are disproportionately burdened by multiple sources of pollution. This information allows DTSC to prioritize its enforcement, complaints, and groundwater investigations.”

Programs to safeguard communities

Toxics in packaging:

  • In 2006, California passed the Toxics in Packaging Prevention Act which limits cadmium, lead, mercury and hexavalent chromium in product packaging.
  • This program provides information to manufacturers, suppliers, and purchasers, and consumers.
  • Examples include, but are not limited to:
    • Food overwrap for food products sold in retail channels
    • Plastic clamshells that hold a product
    • Cardboard used to protect laptop computers
    • Steel strapping used to secure shipping containers
    • Recycled materials used to make new packaging”

Hazardous Waste:

  • This program “governs the treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous waste, including land disposal, the permitting process and requirements for TSD facilities.”
  • Enforcement mechanisms include monitoring hazardous waste transfer, storage, treatment, and disposal. It takes appropriate action against violators.

Programs to restore communities

General site cleanups:

  • “This program oversees approximately 220 hazardous substance release sites at any given time and completes an average of 125 cleanups each year.
  • An additional 250 sites are listed on DTSC's EnviroStor database of properties that may be contaminated.”
  • Works with the “Brownfields, the Voluntary Cleanup, and the California Land Reuse and Revitalization programs to streamline site cleanups.
  • The Investigating Site Contamination and Cleanup Loans and Environmental Assistance to Neighborhoods (CLEAN Loans) Programs offers loans to help neighborhoods and individual sites acquire the resources to cleanup or investigate a site.

School site cleanup:

  • The School Property Evaluation and Cleanup Division in DTSC evaluates and investigates proposed school sites to ensure they are currently contamination free and whether or not the site has had any contamination history.
  • State funded schools must undergo strict assessments to uphold human health standards.
  • This is the only “comprehensive school environmental evaluation program in the United States.”


  • These properties are typically underdeveloped since they are either contaminated or allegedly contaminated.
  • Site restoration is meant to “free previously unavailable land for productive reuse, while taking development pressures off undeveloped open land, thereby improving and protecting the environment.
  • To gain project support, public participation is encouraged during site assessments, cleanups, and development.

Abandoned Mines:

  • The Voluntary Cleanup program coordinates with the U.S. Environmetnal Protection Agency to provide technical support, operation, and maintenance services to properties on the National Priorities List.
  • This program also takes over orphaned sites or orders a site to be orphaned to perform investigations and improve the environmental quality.

Vapor Intrusion:

  • Works with the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board to assess human health risks in different settings.
  • Provides information on site screenings.

Notable toxic chemical protection program outcomes

  • “Safer Consumer Products – "Green Chemistry" regulations that fundamentally change the way government protects consumers from toxic ingredients in everyday products went into effect in the fall of 2013. The initial set of "priority products" was released in the spring of 2014. In September 2014, DTSC released a draft three-year work plan that identifies product categories that will be the focus of future priority products.
  • Rulemaking for Children’s Nap Mats, the first of three priority products, is scheduled for the summer of 2016.
  • Contamination in People and Wildlife – Starting in 2000, DTSC scientists uncovered and tracked alarming evidence that flame retardant chemicals found in furniture and electronics was showing up in people and marine animals at the highest levels recorded in the world.”


  1.  "DTSC Website"

Office of Emergency Services- Inventory Release Plan


(916) 845-8732