EDF Health

The Trump EPA’s actions on formaldehyde can be summed up in one word: Corrupt

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

Today, Heidi Vogt at the Wall Street Journal reported on the systematic efforts by the Trump Administration to derail chemical assessments under the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS).   

Decisions are being made as I write by conflicted EPA political appointees, not only to derail the beleaguered IRIS assessment for the carcinogen formaldehyde, but to transfer any further assessment of the chemical to be under the control of those same political appointees.

The WSJ article cites an upcoming report by Congress’ Government Accountability Office (GAO) that notes “EPA leadership in October directed the heads of the agency’s various programs to limit the number of chemicals they wanted IRIS to study or continue researching.  Nine of 16 assessments were then dropped, including one that looked at whether exposure to formaldehyde increases the risk of leukemia that ‘has been drafted and is ready to be released for public comment.’ ”  The chemical industry has long sought to undermine the findings of numerous governmental authorities that have identified the dangers posed by formaldehyde, one of the industry’s biggest cash cows.

IRIS itself has also long been a target of the chemical and allied industries, including those well represented by EPA political appointees who are now able to drive the assault on IRIS from inside the agency.

This post will provide more of the backstory to the WSJ’s excellent reporting.  It reveals additional decisions being made as I write by conflicted political appointees, not only to derail the beleaguered IRIS assessment for formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen, but to transfer any further assessment of the chemical to be under the control of those same political appointees.  What is happening here we believe is ripe for further investigation.   Read More »

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EDF to OMB: Ban on methylene chloride in paint strippers must protect workers in addition to consumers

Lindsay McCormick, Project Manager, and Joanna Slaney, Legislative Director

Over 11,000 concerned Americans have sent messages to Members of Congress over the last two weeks to urge EPA and OMB to protect workers – the population at most risk – from methylene chloride in paint strippers.

Today, EDF met with the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) about the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) draft final rule on methylene chloride-based paint strippers. We urged the office to ensure the ban on methylene chloride-based paint and coating removers covers both consumer and most commercial uses – as the agency originally proposed.

Removing these deadly products from stores, workplaces, and homes is a critical step to protecting public health. Methylene chloride is acutely lethal. Exposure to the chemical has led to over 50 reported worker deaths since the mid-1980s, more than 40 of which are attributed to use of methylene chloride-based paint strippers. Many more deaths have likely gone unreported. The chemical is also associated with a host of other serious health effects, including neurotoxicity, cancer, and liver impairment.

Despite the facts that workers represent the vast majority of reported deaths and face the highest risks of other health effects, it appears that EPA is poised to finalize a rule that excludes a ban on commercial uses entirely – and will instead merely initiate a lengthy, uncertain process that may lead to certification and training approaches EPA had already considered and rejected as inadequate to protect workers.

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ACC to retailers, consumers, and the rest of us: You just don’t get that TSCA implementation is coming along swimmingly

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

Regular readers of this blog know it is our view that, under the Trump EPA, implementation of the 2016 reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) has pretty much gone off the rails, deviating from what the law requires, failing to reflect the best available science, and not protecting public health.  It’s a view shared by, among others, former top EPA officials, members of Congress, state and local governments, labor groups, firefighters, water utilities, public health groups, and a broad range of environmental groups.

But in this era of alternative facts, the chemical industry says that’s because we’re all simply misinformed.  And it’s taking steps to correct those alleged misperceptions.   Read More »

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The Trump EPA’s first TSCA risk evaluation is an epic fail

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

Yesterday Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) filed more than 100 pages of comments on a 40-page draft risk evaluation the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has prepared for Pigment Violet 29 (PV29).  PV29 is the first of 10 chemicals undergoing risk evaluations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Our comments were so much longer than the EPA document we were commenting on because there was far more to say about what information EPA failed to obtain, make available or consider than what EPA included in its draft.

The essence of our lengthy comments can be boiled down to a single sentence, however:  EPA has utterly failed to demonstrate that PV29 does not present unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.

For folks who want somewhat more detail than this, our comments start with a 4-page Executive Summary that capsulizes the many serious deficiencies we identified in EPA’s draft.  I’ll provide some highlights in this post.   Read More »

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Correction: The Trump EPA’s first TSCA risk evaluation is a skyscraper of cards, not just a house

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

We blogged before the holiday break about how EPA used a single, unverified and conflicted estimate of worker exposure to build a whole house of cards and then used it to conclude that Pigment Violet 29 (or PV29) poses no risk to human health.

But upon further consideration, we need to issue a correction:  It’s not a house, it’s a veritable skyscraper of cards EPA has constructed.  That’s because EPA took its highly suspect worker exposure level and combined it with a hazard value EPA erroneously asserts demonstrates minimal hazard, in violation of its own and other authoritative guidance.   Read More »

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The Trump EPA’s first risk evaluation under the new TSCA is a house of cards

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

I’ve been blogging about the deep problems surrounding the first draft risk evaluation the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released under the recently amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  This risk evaluation, which is now out for public comment, is on a chemical commonly called Pigment Violet 29, or PV29.  Among the many problems that immediately jumped out as we began our review of this draft evaluation are EPA’s reliance on clearly inadequate health and environmental hazard data to conclude the chemical is safe, as well as EPA’s illegal withholding from the public of the little hazard information it does have.

I suppose if you start with almost no reliable data on a chemical, are dead set against using your enhanced authorities to get any more data, and are hell-bent on finding the chemical is safe, this is how you might choose to conduct a risk evaluation.

This post will look at the other half of the risk equation, exposure.  EPA has even less information on exposures to PV29 than it does on hazard.  EPA has no actual data on the levels of PV29 released to or present in air, soil, sediment, surface water, people, other organisms, workplaces or products containing or made from the chemical.  It lacks any data from, and hasn’t used its authorities to require, monitoring in workplaces or any environmental media.

So what does EPA have?   Read More »

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