DTSC: Who We Are and What We Do

DTSC's Mission Statement and Strategic Plan

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.

Our Vision

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



Management and staff of the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) are committed to protect Californians and their environment from exposure to hazardous wastes by enforcing hazardous waste laws and regulations. The department takes enforcement action against violators; oversees cleanup of hazardous wastes on contaminated properties; makes decisions on permit applications from companies that want to store, treat or dispose of hazardous waste; and protects consumers against toxic ingredients in everyday products. The department is committed to engaging the public in a way that allows those most affected by its decisions, are given opportunities to voice their concerns and ask questions.

DTSC consists of:

  • 974 scientists, engineers, toxicologists, chemists, geologists, attorneys, criminal investigators and administrative staff
  • Eight offices – Sacramento (2 offices, HQ and a field office), Berkeley, Clovis, Cypress, Chatsworth, El Centro and San Diego
  • Two environmental chemistry laboratories - Berkeley and Pasadena
  • $208.1 million operating budget for Fiscal Year 2015-16 proposed budget
  • Revenue sources (amounts rounded):
  • Special taxes and fees: $87 million
  • Federal grants: $30 million
  • California's General Fund: $27 million
  • Fines and penalties: $2 million

DTSC takes a multi-pronged approach to regulating more than 100,000 entities to prevent the release of hazardous waste, clean up contamination, and ensure hazardous waste is handled safely by:

  • Conducting inspections and taking enforcement actions to ensure compliance.
  • Providing emergency response support for hazardous materials-related emergencies throughout California.
  • Making decisions on permit applications for approximately 90 existing and 30 closed hazardous waste facilities.
  • Ensuring companies provide financial assurance in case they close or are ordered to clean up contamination.
  • Investigating potential criminal activities with sworn peace officers who have the powers of arrest, search and seizure.
  • Cleaning up properties that were contaminated by past activities such as metal plating, manufacturing, or illegal disposal.
  • Ensuring new schools built in California are safe from the effects of hazardous waste.
  • Protecting precious water resources by removing and preventing the spread of contamination in soil.
  • Removing wastes from properties so those properties can be put back into productive use. 

DTSC is a leader in protecting consumers from toxic ingredients:

  • 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.
  • 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. 

DTSC is at the forefront of developing technologies and techniques to protect people and the environment from toxics:

  • DTSC's efforts to identify and address indoor air contamination caused by contaminated soil or groundwater is recognized throughout the world as a landmark effort to protect the public.
  • Finding Toxics in Products – DTSC's Environmental Chemistry Lab provides scientific leadership on emerging chemicals issues and develops 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 – In an effort to protect Californians' access to clean, reliable drinking water, DTSC partnered with US EPA to develop a "spacial" geographic information tool that identifies areas of the state where we expect drinking water is or will be threatened, allowing the Department to prioritize these areas for further action, including water treatment.
  • Impacted Communities - DTSC uses CalEnviroScreen, a first-in-the-nation environmental health screening tool developed by CalEPA, to identify communities in California that are most burdened by pollution from multiple sources. This information allows DTSC to prioritize its enforcement, complaints, and groundwater investigations. 

DTSC is committed to community participation, transparency and ensuring that impacted communities are protected:

  • More than 40% of all inspections, complaint investigations and enforcement actions take place in areas most burdened by multiple pollution sources. DTSC's Environmental Justice Plan makes protecting, safeguarding, and restoring these communities a tenet of its work.
  • DTSC's Public Participation Program conducts a variety of outreach activities designed to inform and engage the public in DTSC's decision-making. Similarly, DTSC is seeking more effective ways to enhance public participation, particularly in communities disproportionately burdened by environmental pollution.
  • DTSC conducts quarterly Public Meetings to discuss key departmental initiatives and announce opportunities for public involvement in decisions. DTSC publishes an on-line news feed every week that is e-mailed to hundreds of subscribers. The feed provides short updates and internet links to the latest accomplishments and news highlights at DTSC.
  • DTSC aggressively uses social media such as Twitter and Facebook to inform the public of pending issues, decisions, and upcoming events.