(COMMON DREAMS) Jessica Corbett, June 18, 2018 — In yet another case of the Trump administration delivering a dangerous blow to public health protections by catering to the chemical industry’s demands, the New York Times reports that the Environmental Protection Agency is scaling back how it evaluates the safety risks of potentially toxic substances.
Citing some 1,500 documents recently released by the agency, Times reporter Eric Lipton explains:
Under a law passed by Congress during the final year of the Obama administration, the EPA was required for the first time to evaluate hundreds of potentially toxic chemicals and determine if they should face new restrictions, or even be removed from the market. The chemicals include many in everyday use, such as dry-cleaning solvents, paint strippers, and substances used in health and beauty products like shampoos and cosmetics.
But as it moves forward reviewing the first batch of 10 chemicals, the EPA has in most cases decided to exclude from its calculations any potential exposure caused by the substances’ presence in the air, the ground, or water. …Instead, the agency will focus on possible harm caused by direct contact with a chemical in the workplace or elsewhere. The approach means that the improper disposal of chemicals—leading to the contamination of drinking water, for instance—will often not be a factor in deciding whether to restrict or ban them.
“This decision is shameful, outrageous,” tweeted Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund.