Selected category: EPA

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.

Read More »

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

Report: Widespread exposure to a risky chemical “blessed” by the Trump Administration’s nominee to head EPA’s toxics office

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.  Jack Pratt is Chemicals Campaign Director.

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

A report issued today by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) documents that the industrial chemical 1,4-dioxane, a likely human carcinogen, is present in tap water used by nearly 90 million Americans living in 45 states.  For more than 7 million of those people (living in 27 states), the average level of the chemical exceeds the level set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as presenting an increased risk of cancer, which is one among a number of health effects tied to the chemical.

The solvent 1,4-dioxane is manufactured in large amounts in the U.S., with EPA reporting a total volume in 2015 between 1 and 10 million pounds. It is intentionally used or present in products like paints and coatings, greases, waxes, varnishes and dyes. It is also found as an impurity in many household cleaning and personal care products.

Among the other reasons this chemical is currently notable:

  • It is one of the first 10 chemicals being evaluated by EPA under the recently reformed Toxic Substances Control Act to determine whether it presents an unreasonable risk and warrants regulation. Currently there is no legal enforceable limit on the amount of the chemical allowed in drinking water.
  • It is one of a number of chemicals that Michael Dourson, the Trump Administration’s nominee to lead the EPA toxics office, was paid to work on by the chemical industry. EDF has blogged extensively about Dourson’s close ties to the chemical industry as well as earlier work he did for the tobacco industry.  In the case of 1,4-dioxane, Dourson was hired by PPG Industries, a paints and coatings manufacturer that has released the chemical into the environment, leading to contamination of a public water supply in Ohio.

Read More »

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

Another tragic death — time for EPA to ban high-risk chemical paint strippers

Lindsay McCormick is a Project Manager.  

A few weeks ago, a 21-year-old man tragically passed away after being overcome by chemical fumes while refinishing a bathtub.  The young man was working for a small painting business in Tennessee.  His death is currently being investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), but is suspected to have been caused by methylene chloride exposure.  If confirmed, this would add to the dozens of reported deaths caused by the chemical’s use in paint stripping products over the past several decades.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has within its grasp the ability to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again. In January, EPA proposed to ban methylene chloride in paint and coating removal products – including those used for bathtub refinishing, and is considering a ban on such use of another highly toxic chemical called N-methylpyrrolidone.  The agency based its proposal on an extensive assessment of the scientific literature, which demonstrated not only lethal risks from acute methylene chloride exposure but also other health impacts from both short- and long-term exposure to both chemicals.

Products containing these chemicals are available at hardware and other retail stores across the country, and unless EPA acts promptly to finalize a ban, there will surely be more avoidable deaths and other health impacts due to use of high-risk chemical paint strippers.  In EDF’s recent comments to EPA, we strongly urged it to finalize these bans as soon as possible to protect public health.  EPA should not wait for another reason to take action.

Also posted in Regulation| Tagged , | Read 1 Response

Our health protections at risk: TSCA reform undone by “regulatory reform”?

Lindsay McCormick is a Project Manager. Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

On February 24th, President Trump signed Executive Order 13777, calling on all government agencies to recommend regulations for “potential repeal, replacement, or modification.” As of this writing, EPA has received 46,050 comments on its regulatory reform process. Interestingly, the overwhelming majority of these comments come from individuals across the country voicing their support for strengthening EPA’s regulatory protections, demonstrating that Americans stand strong in their opposition to regulatory roadblocks and rollbacks.

In compliance with this executive order, EPA held a stakeholder meeting last week to identify “regulatory reform” opportunities under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The irony – and absurdity – of this process is that not even a year ago, Congress passed, with overwhelming bipartisan support, sweeping reforms to TSCA, finally providing EPA with new tools and authority to review and manage chemicals more effectively. The need for a credible regulatory agency—one able to make timely, independent, science-based decisions about chemical safety—was seen by all parties as essential to increase public confidence in the safety of chemicals. Under-regulation, not over-regulation, has been the clear problem in this arena for decades.  Read More »

Also posted in Industry Influence, Nanotechnology, Regulation, TSCA Reform| Tagged , | Comments are closed

Progress takes vigilance to reduce children’s exposure to lead

Tom Neltner, J.D.is Chemicals Policy Director

The United States has made significant progress over the past fifteen years towards reducing children’s exposure to lead. While much more needs to be done to eliminate the more than $50 billion a year in societal costs from lead, the progress is good news for children since it is well known that there is no safe level of lead in children, and it can impair their brain development, contribute to learning and behavioral problems, and lower IQs.

Achieving this progress has required a diligent and ongoing commitment from all levels of government. If we expect to continue to make progress – and not backslide – the federal government needs to remain committed to reducing sources of lead exposure. So far what we’ve seen from the Trump Administration raises serious concerns about any real commitment to protecting children’s health, including from lead.

Lead has a toxic legacy from decades of extensive use in paint, gasoline, and water pipes. As long as lead is in the paint, pipes, and soil where we live, work and play, progress is far from inevitable. Protecting children from lead takes constant vigilance, especially when the paint or plumbing is disturbed. Flint provided a tragic example of what happens when we turn away. Without vigilance, the positive trends we have seen in blood lead levels could all too easily reverse course and go up. That is why the proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) budget, which would eliminate the agency’s lead-based paint programs, are yet another indication that this Administration is turning its back on protecting children’s health.

Mean blood lead levels in young children dropped 56% from 1999 to 2014

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) demonstrates that from 1999 to 2014 the levels of lead in children’s blood or “blood lead levels” (BLL) dropped preciptiously. Average BLLs in young children declined by 56% during that period with the rate of decline increasing after 2010. For children with a BLL greater than 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter (µg/dL), the reduction was an impressive 86%. Read More »

Also posted in Drinking Water, Health Policy, lead, Regulation| Tagged , , , , , , | Read 2 Responses
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