SETAC was founded in the late 1970s to be a forum for interdisciplinary communication among environmental scientists – biologists, chemists, toxicologists – as well as managers and engineers and others interested in environmental issues. SETAC was incorporated in Washington, DC, USA, in 1979 and soon grew to be a global entity.
SETAC is concerned about global environmental issues and is committed to Environmental Quality Through Science®. SETAC takes a multidisciplinary, multistakeholder and science-based approach to identifying solutions for environmental challenges. Because of its approach, SETAC’s development and the growth of the environmental movement are closely associated.
SETAC’s growth from SETAC North America has been marked by the establishment of Geographic Units around the world: SETAC Europe in 1989, SETAC Asia-Pacific in 1997, SETAC Latin America in 1999 and SETAC Africa in 2012, as well as regional chapters and branches at the more local level.
A unique strength of SETAC is its commitment to balance the scientific interests of government, academia and business. The society's by-laws mandate equal representation from these three sectors for officers, World Council, Geographic Unit boards of directors and councils, and committee members and governance of activities. The proportion of members from each of the three sectors has remained nearly equal over the years.