Selected category: EPA

Article reveals serious shortcomings in Georgia’s oversight of lead in drinking water

Tom Neltner, J.D.is Chemicals Policy Director

Safe drinking water largely depends on the integrity of the public water system and the vigilance of the state regulatory agency. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets the standards, conducts the research, and oversees the state regulatory agencies. As we saw in Flint, Michigan, these protections break down when the state regulatory agency fails to identify and address potential compliance issues. Criminal charges have been filed against both state and local officials.

The Flint tragedy prompted EPA to send letters in February 2016 to governors and state agencies reminding of them of their responsibilities under the Safe Drinking Water Act and asking for a meeting with each state to discuss concerns and a written response to key compliance challenges under the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR). EPA posted the state responses online.

The tap sampling required under the LCR is critical since it triggers treatment of the water for small and medium systems and public education and lead service line replacement for all systems if treatment is insufficient. Given this central role, the LCR requires water systems to take water samples from the taps of properties most likely to have lead. For small and medium systems, single family homes with lead service lines are a top priority.

The sampling requirement is challenging since it depends on the cooperation of the resident to let the water stagnate in the lines for at least six hours and then take a first draw sample before anyone uses the water. Residents may need an incentive to cooperate, especially over many years.

A disturbing, three-part investigative report by WebMD and Georgia Health News provided insight into potential shortcomings by utilities that are likely to underestimate the levels. It also highlights Georgia’s apparent failure to identify the problems. The investigators checked on changes in the sampling sites over the years and looked up the sampling locations to determine if they fit the criteria laid out in EPA’s rule. It is an impressive deep dive into LCR compliance sampling issues.

Read More »

Also posted in Drinking Water, lead, States| Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Michael Dourson’s Toxic Wake: Locations Across the US Contaminated by Eight Chemicals “Blessed” by Trump EPA Toxics Nominee

Samantha Lovell is a Project Specialist.

[Use this link to see all of our posts on Dourson.]

Next Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Michael Dourson – who has made a career as a chemical industry hired gun – to lead the EPA toxics office.

In past blogs, we have documented deep concerns about Dourson’s extensive, longstanding ties to the chemical industry in addition to his earlier work for the tobacco industry. Dourson and his company Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA) were paid for their work by more than three dozen companies or trade associations, involving at least three dozen different chemicals.

Several recent news stories and reports have identified examples where Dourson or TERA helped industry play down health concerns about chemicals, including Dourson’s work in West Virginia involving the “Teflon” chemical PFOA and his study funded by Koch Industries in Chicago involving petroleum coke.

To illustrate the real-world impacts of his work, we have identified locations across the country where eight of the chemicals that Dourson has “blessed” have stirred concerns from residents about polluted water, soil, and air or poisoned residents and workers.

Read More »

Also posted in Health Policy, Industry Influence, States, TSCA Reform| Tagged | Comments are closed

Proof in pudding: EPA toxics nominee Dourson has consistently recommended “safe” levels for chemicals that would weaken health protections

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

[Use this link to see all of our posts on Dourson.]

Earlier this week the New York Times ran an article on the Trump Administration’s nominee to run the EPA toxics office, Michael Dourson.  The article detailed Dourson’s longstanding ties to the chemical industry, citing examples of work he did on specific chemicals paid for by the companies that make or use them.

What is remarkable about Dourson’s work in light of his nomination is not just his conflicts, but the fact that his paid work consistently has led to him recommend “safe” levels of his clients’ chemicals that were less health-protective than government standards or guidelines prevailing at the time.  The Times article referred to an analysis by EDF in discussing the example of the pesticide chlorpyrifos.  Chlorpyrifos is one of 10 chemicals included in EDF’s analysis, which is provided in this post.   Read More »

Also posted in Health Policy, Health Science, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform| Tagged | Comments are closed

Modus operandi: How EPA toxics nominee Dourson carries out his work for the chemical industry

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

[Use this link to see all of our posts on Dourson.]

I’ve now examined dozens of papers and reports that EPA toxics nominee Michael Dourson and his firm, Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA), have published on chemicals over the past 15-20 years.  A remarkably consistent pattern of how Dourson conducts his paid work for the chemical and pesticide industries emerges from this examination.  I’ll use one example below to illustrate, but most or all of the steps I’ll describe have been followed over and over again.   Read More »

Also posted in Health Policy, Health Science, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform| Tagged | Comments are closed

New EPA model enables comparison of various sources of childhood exposure to lead

Tom Neltner, J.D.is Chemicals Policy Director and Dr. Ananya Roy is Health Scientist

This week, Environmental Health Perspectives published an important article by scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that sheds important light on the various sources of children’s lead exposure. Led by Valerie Zaltarian, the article shares an innovative multimedia model to quantify and compare relative contributions of lead from air, soil/dust, water and food to children’s blood lead level. The model couples existing SHEDS and IEUBK models to predict blood lead levels using information on concentrations of lead in different sources, intake and gut absorption. The predicted blood lead levels compared well with observed levels in the National Health and Nutrition Evaluation Survey population. Given the variety of independent sources of lead exposure, the model provides a critical tool that public health professionals can use to set priorities and evaluate the impact of various potential standards for all children and not just those with the greatest exposure.

This peer-reviewed article builds on a draft report EPA released in January 2017 evaluating different approaches to setting a health-based benchmark for lead in drinking water. The report has provided a wealth of insight into a complicated topic. Earlier this year, we used it to show that formula-fed infants get most of their lead exposure from water and toddlers from food, while the main source of lead for the highest exposed children is soil and dust. In our February blog, we provided our assessment of a health-based benchmark for lead in drinking water and explained how public health professionals could use it to evaluate homes. The information was also critical to identifying lead in food as an overlooked, but meaningful, source of children’s exposure to lead.

The new article reaffirms the analysis in the January 2017 EPA report and highlights that evaluating source contribution to blood lead in isolation versus aggregating across all sources can lead to very different answers and priorities. A health-based benchmark for lead in drinking water could vary from 0 to 46 ppb depending on age and whether all other sources of lead are considered. For example, a health-based benchmark for infants (birth to six months old) would be 4 ppb or 13 ppb depending on whether or not you consider all sources of exposure.

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Also posted in Drinking Water, Emerging Science, Food, Health Policy, lead, Uncategorized| Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments are closed

This speaks volumes: Industry rushes in to defend EPA’s new TSCA regulations

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

Environmental Defense Fund has made no secret of our view that many elements of the final framework rules issued by the Trump EPA in July to implement recent reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) are contrary to law and fail to reflect the best available science.  The rules EPA had proposed in January were heavily rewritten by a Trump political appointee, Dr. Nancy Beck, who until her arrival at the agency at the end of April was a senior official at the chemical industry’s main trade association, the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

In our view, the final rules largely destroyed the careful balance that characterized the efforts to reform TSCA and the final product of that effort, the Lautenberg Act.  In many respects, the final rules governing how EPA will identify and prioritize chemicals and evaluate their risks now mirror the demands of the chemical industry, reflected in comments they had submitted earlier – some of which Beck herself had co-authored.

These are among the reasons EDF as well as other NGOs and health and labor groups have had no choice but to file legal challenges to these rules.

Lest you have any doubt that the final rules are heavily skewed in industry’s direction, a development in these legal cases just yesterday should dispel it.  Read More »

Also posted in Health Policy, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform| Tagged | Read 1 Response
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