Lawsuits Allege EPA’s New Safety Regulations Cater to Chemical Industry Profits

Lawsuits Allege EPA's New Safety Regulations Cater to Chemical Industry Profits
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Two lawsuits filed against the Trump administration contend that the EPA has weakened key rules in regulating toxic chemicals linked to numerous health risks, particularly for people of color, Alaska Natives, and families of children with learning disabilities.

The lawsuits were filed by the environmental organization Earthjustice on behalf of the Environmental Working Group and other groups representing the at-risk consumers.

According to the filings, the lawsuits contend that the EPA’s new rules for prioritizing chemical safety review, including the evaluation process as part of the Toxic Substances Control Act, leave vulnerable communities at risk for severe chemical exposure and the resulting health issues. The chemicals affected are found in food and water, consumer products, and building materials.

“After Congress took bipartisan action to make desperately needed updates to our chemical safety laws, the Trump Administration has turned back the clock, leaving families and workers at risk,” Eve Gartner, an attorney at Earthjustice, said in a statement. “The EPA’s newly adopted rules – overseen by a former high-level chemical industry official with head-spinning conflicts of interest – will leave children, communities and workers vulnerable to dangerous chemicals. This lawsuit is about one thing: holding the Trump EPA to the letter of the law and ensuring it fulfills its mandate to protect the public.”

According to the plaintiffs, the Trump administration has taken blatant measure to weaken rules on how the EPA assesses chemical safety – a move the groups say caters to the chemical industries.

“This administration is anti-public health,” said Melanie Benesh, EWG’s legislative attorney. “The EPA’s new rules fail to protect consumers by exempting key sources of exposure to risky chemicals. For example, 1,4-dioxane is linked to cancer and is a well-known contaminant of the personal care and cleaning products consumers use everyday. EPA has indicated it will not assess the risks from these exposures just because 1,4-dioxane is an impurity. That’s absurd. Cancer is cancer regardless of how a chemical ends up in a product. EPA’s safety determinations should take all sources of exposure into consideration. To do otherwise is completely contrary to public health and bad for consumers.”

The lawsuits were filed on behalf of EWG, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Learning Disabilities Association of America, United Steelworkers, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Health Strategy Center and Sierra Club.

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.