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EPA Adopts Fringe Science Claim That Small Doses of Pollution Are Healthy
David Woodfall / The Image Bank / Getty Images
By Sam Nickerson
Now, correspondence obtained by the LA Times revealed just how deeply involved industry lobbyists and a controversial, industry-funded toxicologist were in drafting the federal agency's proposal to scrap its current, protective approach to regulating toxin exposure.
The proposed change came just two weeks after a top EPA official contacted toxicologist Ed Calabrese, whose claim that low doses of carcinogens and radiation are healthy stressors akin to physical exercise that activate the body's repair mechanisms has been panned by more mainstream researchers.
"I wanted to check to see if you might have some time in the next couple of days for a quick call to discuss a couple of items … " EPA deputy assistant administrator Clint Woods wrote to Calabrese.
The EPA's proposed regulation, signed by then-Administrator Scott Pruitt and published in the U.S. Government's Federal Register, copied Calabrese's recommendations to Woods almost verbatim.
Calabrese, who was also quoted in the EPA's press release for the proposal, celebrated the announcement in an email to former coal and tobacco lobbyist Steve Milloy, who served on President Donald Trump's EPA transition team.
"This is a major big time victory," Calabrese wrote. Milloy, who is also a Fox News commentator, replied that it was "YUGE."
The EPA's proposal is a departure from its long-time "linear no-threshold" approach to regulating the study of toxins: once a substance is found to be harmful at one level, the danger applies at all levels. In other words, there can be no safe level of radiation exposure.
Calabrese argues this approach is overly cautious and a financial detriment to industry. The new rule would require that regulators look at "various threshold models across the exposure range" for pollutants.
Low doses of otherwise toxic chemicals can be beneficial to human health in specific clinical situations, the LA Times noted, but experiments have produced mixed results and experts say it would be a risk to apply the findings to regulation for the general public.
"There is no way to control the dose a person gets from an industrial or agricultural chemical," David Jacobs, a professor of public health at the University of Minnesota, told the newspaper. "It's not being doled out in pills and monitored by a physician who can lower it if the patient isn't responding well."
The EPA has not announced a date for when it will make a decision on the rule proposal.
Health experts believe that if the EPA does adopt the rule, it could lead to wholesale changes to the agency's standards for regulating toxic waste, pesticides, and air and water quality.
"Industry has been pushing for this for a long time," George Washington University professor of environmental and occupational health David Michaels told the LA Times. "Not just the chemical industry, but the radiation and tobacco industries too."
Calabrese has long been connected to these industries and has received funding from tobacco firm R.J. Reynolds, Dow Chemical, Exxon Mobil and others, the LA Times reported.
Calabrese's role in the EPA's proposal illustrates how the Trump administration has pursued environmental policy recommendations from industry lobbyists based on research running counter to mainstream science.
According to the LA Times, Calabrese first emailed Milloy about whether it would be possible to get the EPA to abandon the linear no-threshold model in September 2017, not even nine months after Trump was sworn into office.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Daisy Brickhill
Each morning, men living in fishing communities along Ghana's coastline push off in search of the day's catch. But when the boats come back to shore, it's the women who take over.
By Sam Nickerson
Links between excess sugar in your diet and disease have been well-documented, but new research by Harvard's School of Public Health might make you even more wary of that next soda: it could increase your risk of an early death.
The study, published this week in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation, found that drinking one or two sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) each day — like sodas or sports drinks — increases risk of an early death by 14 percent.
Tyson Foods Recalls Nearly 70,000 Pounds of Chicken Strips After Customers Find ‘Fragments of Metal’
Tyson Foods is recalling approximately 69,093 pounds of frozen chicken strips because they may have been contaminated with pieces of metal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday.
The affected products were fully-cooked "Buffalo Style" and "Crispy" chicken strips with a "use by" date of Nov. 30, 2019 and an establishment number of "P-7221" on the back of the package.
"FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers' freezers," the recall notice said. "Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase."
Environmental exposure to pesticides, both before birth and during the first year of life, has been linked to an increased risk of developing autism spectrum disorder, according to the largest epidemiological study to date on the connection.
The study, published Wednesday in BMJ, found that pregnant women who lived within 2,000 meters (approximately 1.2 miles) of a highly-sprayed agricultural area in California had children who were 10 to 16 percent more likely to develop autism and 30 percent more likely to develop severe autism that impacted their intellectual ability. If the children were exposed to pesticides during their first year of life, the risk they would develop autism went up to 50 percent.
ExxonMobil could be the second company after Monsanto to lose lobbying access to members of European Parliament after it failed to turn up to a hearing Thursday into whether or not the oil giant knowingly spread false information about climate change.
The call to ban the company was submitted by Green Member of European Parliament (MEP) Molly Scott Cato and should be decided in a vote in late April, The Guardian reported.
Bernie Sanders has become the first contender in the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential primary field to pledge to offset all of the greenhouse gas emissions released by campaign travel, The Huffington Post reported Thursday.