DTSC: Who We Are and What We Do

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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

Learn more about DTSC's plans, accomplishments, budgets, and our leadership team:


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
  • 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
  • $217.5 million operating budget for Fiscal Year 2016-17 (proposed budget, does not include Spring Finance Letters)
  • Revenue sources (amounts rounded):
  • Special taxes and fees: $128.7 million
  • Federal grants: $32.9 million
  • California's General Fund: $29.3 million
  • Other Funds: $26.5 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 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 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.
  • 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. 

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


Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity at DTSC

DTSC is committed to building and maintaining a culture of diversity and inclusion throughout all levels of the organization. The long-term success of DTSC depends on our ability to capture the creativity and inspiration of our entire organization and work together to accomplish common goals. In our important work together, we hope to attract and retain employees who are valued and feel respected for both their knowledge and life experiences. We envision a workplace culture where diversity is valued and inclusion is fostered throughout the organization.

Why Focus on Diversity?

California is home to nearly 40 million people, each one unique. As a state department, DTSC employees should reflect and embrace the diversity of the state's residents. Many people assume workplace diversity relates only to characteristics of "protected classes," such as age, sex, race, and sexual orientation. But there is much more to it than that—factors such as physical appearance, communication style, hidden disabilities, gender identification and intergenerational and cultural differences, to name a few, also play a role in an organizations diversity. Research shows that highly diverse workplaces excel at innovation and problem-solving, which are essential components to making DTSC a highly effective organization.

Our Approach

In 2016, the Diversity and Inclusion Work Group provided recommendations to the Department with four key strategic goals for diversity and inclusion:

  • Goal 1. Establish Diversity & Inclusion as a fundamental and foundational framework for leadership development, employee engagement, and professional accountability.

  • Goal 2. Create an inclusive culture at the Department, where diverse internal and external stakeholders feel heard, supported, and valued.

  • Goal 3. Ensure that recruitment/retention and employee benefits are broad-based, inclusive, and reflective of California’s diverse communities.

  • Goal 4. Adopt a results-oriented approach that continually and systematically reviews, analyzes, and bolsters DTSC's staff members representing the whole organization, the executive sponsors and the executive staff. Implementation will also rely on the allocation of appropriate resources and development and execution of action plans to support the process of incorporating diversity, inclusion, and equity throughout DTSC.

To learn more please contact us at: Diversity-Inclusion@dtsc.ca.gov.


Diversity and Inclusion Video