How The EPAs Decision To Scale Back Regulation Will Affect Us
According to the New York Times, the Environmental Protection Agency is scaling back regulations regarding the hazardous effects of common chemical agents. And this is how the EPAs decision will affect us.
The EPA won’t subject chemicals in cleaners, cosmetics, makeup, and other household and manufacturing products, to the same level of analysis as they did previously.
Big players who work in the chemical industry have been lobbying Donald Trump’s government to decrease the level of scrutiny that some of these products are typically subjected to.
A law passed by Congress during the last year of the Obama administration introduced the notion that the EPA had to evaluate hundreds of chemicals to understand how they’re affecting the planet, both directly and indirectly.
The Purpose Of Obama’s Prior Legislation
The purpose of the legislation was to determine their potential for harm. Then, implementing new restrictions or getting rid of them from the market altogether.
Some of the chemicals formerly under scrutiny and control were dry-cleaning agents, paint strippers, and other compounds used in health and beauty products like hair products and makeup.
As a result of the changes to the EPA, the government branch will no longer look at some of the second-hand effects of these chemicals.
The Effect Of The EPA’s Decision
In other words, the EPA won’t study how some of these compounds – and there are ten of them under review at the moment – affect the air quality, the soil, or the water supply.
Rather than using a comprehensive analysis to figure out precisely how these chemical agents affect us, the EPA will only look at the effects of direct contact.
For instance, they will research the effects of the chemicals upon contact with a person’s skin or the effect of it in drinking water, but not much else.
And the Implications of This?
It means that if corporations improperly dispose of hazardous chemicals, we’ll have no way of knowing because the EPA is no longer looking at it.
The EPA won’t decide to ban a substance based on its indirect effects on the earth.
And this is a huge win for chemical companies but a big loss for environmentalists, American citizens, and the world.
One official who used to work for the EPA said that the new scalebacks on the EPA’s reach are “ridiculous.”
If the government agency can no longer comprehensively study the entirety of a chemical’s effect on the environment then we’re failing to understand the chemical’s side-effect.
One of the former officials for the agency, Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, said we can’t determine if something is unsafe for use if we can’t study it rigorously.
Another side effect of the new scale back on the EPA’s reach is that the government won’t measure the effects of air pollutants. Currently, manufacturing in the United States releases 68 million pounds a year worth of emissions.
Essentially, the agency won’t look at the runoff effects of using these chemicals. Including from the improper disposal of them ever since companies began using them.
Most likely, the result of the new changes will be that chemicals won’t be subjected to the same rigorous analysis, so we won’t know what kind of effect they have on the environment.
And the result of this will be more chemicals introduced into the market, without knowing the consequence of their use.
The EPA Won’t Study The Effects Of These Chemicals
The EPA won’t look at the hazards involved with perchloroethylene, which often discharges into streams, lakes, landfills, or in the air from dry-cleaning stores, manufacturing, and processing plants.
One of the chemicals under review, 1,4-dioxane, which is often used in anti-freeze, deodorants, shampoos, and cosmetics, is considered as a likely carcinogenic to humans.
Another one is trichloroethylene. Companies often use it for the production of refrigerant chemicals and to remove grease from metal parts. It’s associated with liver, kidney, and blood cancer.
The Chemical Industry Has Been Lobbying For This For Years
Previously, Nancy B. Beck, one of Trump’s appointees who oversees EPA’s toxic chemical unit, has been adamant about rolling back some of these regulations and standards in the past.
However, now that she’s an appointee, she has been able to exert some influence and this is the result. Formerly, she worked at the American Chemistry Council, which is one of the industry’s primary lobbying organizations.
A representative for the Environmental Protection Agency said that the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act, among other regulations, were already capable of regulating chemicals discovered in the drinking water, the air, and rivers. So, there’s no reason to renew the law.
The New Administrators For The EPA Say It’s About Being Practical
Jahan Wilcox, one of the representatives for the EPA, said the agency focuses on the effects of chemicals after direct human contact.
Erik Baptist, one of the other leading players in this decision, used to work as a lawyer at the American Petroleum Institute.
The American Chemistry Council said the EPA’s new approach is closer to the actual law, and its reach is now “protective and practical.”
But rather, the agency will research the result after direct exposure.
Critics Say That The Trump Administration Is Environmentally Illiterate
The critics of Trump’s administration say they are illiterate in environmental science.
For instance, while the use of a chemical may not have immediate effects on a person’s skin, after a long period of time, after accumulation, that same chemical might wreak havoc on our water supply, the soil, and the air.
Chemicals sometimes accumulate over time and cause problems which weren’t entirely clear at first.
The purpose of the old law under the Obama administration was to study the effects comprehensively first, before allowing their use by industry and regular consumers.
Prior EPA Officials Say The New Decision Is About Avoiding And Putting Off The Problem Until Later
Robert M. Sussman, who used to work as a chemical industry lawyer, and is now a consultant to Safer Chemicals, said that the purpose of scaling back the level of analysis is to avoid having to deal with the problems created by the chemicals.
It’s a method of avoidance, or, putting it off until the future, when it’s already too late.
However, they’re still trying to ban methylene chloride, which is typically in paint strippers. Coroners have blamed it for multiple deaths over the years.
Supposedly, around 12 groups are currently suing the EPA for past changes they made to their chemical evaluation program. The United States Court Of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco are currently dealing with that case.
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