About DTSC

We are determined to safeguard California from the harmful effects of chemicals

Our Commitment to the People and Environment of California

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 gives those most affected by its decisions  opportunities to voice their concerns and ask questions.

DTSC Consists of:

  • Over 1,000 scientists, engineers, toxicologists, chemists, geologists, attorneys, criminal investigators and administrative staff
  • Offices throughout California – Sacramento (2 offices: HQ and a field office), Berkeley, Chatsworth, Clovis, Commerce, Cypress, El Centro and San Diego
  • Two environmental chemistry laboratories – Berkeley and Pasadena

DTSC’s Approach

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 118 permitted facilities, including 89 existing and 29 closed hazardous waste facilities.
  • Ensuring companies provide financial assurance for future closure or cleanup activities.
  • 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.
  • 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’s Leadership

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.
  • DTSC released the 2018-2020 three-year work plan that identifies product categories that will be the focus of future priority products.
  • Three priority products were adopted and seven are currently proposed (2020). Go to our Priority Products web page for more information.
  • 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’s Technologies and Techniques

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

  • Cleaning up Contamination – DTSC is a leader in identifying and addressing 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 is nationally recognized and 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. It also 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.
  • 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.

DTSC’s Commitment to Communities

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 multiple sources of pollution.
  • DTSC uses social media such as Twitter and Facebook to inform the public of pending issues, decisions, and upcoming events.