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Trump scales back EPA’s mandate to evaluate hundreds of toxic chemicals

Trump scales back EPA’s mandate to evaluate hundreds of toxic chemicals
[Photo: Flickr user Gage Skidmore]

The president is scaling back the way the government agency was set to determine whether hundred of chemicals were potentially toxic, reports the New York Times. During Obama’s final year in office, Congress passed a law mandating that the EPA evaluate hundreds of potentially toxic chemicals in everyday use to see if they should face new restrictions or even be removed from the market entirely. These chemicals are ones you come across from every day, including chemicals in dry-cleaning products, shampoos, and cosmetics. But after lobbying from the chemical industry, the Trump administration has decided to scale back the EPA’s investigative powers:

But as it moves forward reviewing the first batch of 10 chemicals, the EPA has in most cases decided to exclude from its calculations any potential exposure caused by the substances’ presence in the air, the ground or water, according to more than 1,500 pages of documents released last week by the agency.

Instead, the agency will focus on possible harm caused by direct contact with a chemical in the workplace or elsewhere. The approach means that the improper disposal of chemicals–leading to the contamination of drinking water, for instance–will often not be a factor in deciding whether to restrict or ban them.

This actually should be little surprise to anyone, however. After all, Trump’s appointee to oversee the toxic chemical unit of the EPA was previously an executive at the American Chemistry Council, which is one of the industry’s primary lobbying groups.

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