To Rebuild Trust After Pruitt, EPA Should Ban These Toxic Chemicals
By Scott Faber
Thanks to President Donald Trump, Americans' confidence in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has never been lower.
Since taking office, Trump and his minions have sought to roll back 76 environmental safeguards, according to Harvard Law School's regulatory rollback tracker. Trump's decisions have created a toxic mess of more air and water pollution. One study estimated that former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's proposal to weaken air quality standards could lead to 80,000 extra deaths per decade.
To rebuild confidence, Wheeler should start by following through on plans to ban some or all uses of four toxic chemicals: chlorpyrifos; methylene chloride; n-methylpyrrolidone, or NMP; and trichloroethylene or TCE.
The EPA had planned to ban chlorpyrifos and some uses of the other three chemicals. But Pruitt reversed or delayed those bans indefinitely. Even though Pruitt recently announced plans to move forward on the proposed ban on methylene chloride in paint strippers, he left many details unanswered.
The science supporting the bans could not be clearer. Chlorpyrifos has been linked to brain damage in children, TCE is known to cause cancer, methylene chloride has caused dozens of deaths, and NMP is linked to developmental, reproductive and neurotoxic disorders. But under pressure from the chemical industry, Pruitt put profits ahead of public health.
Under its new leadership, the EPA should not wait to finally ban chlorpyrifos, and to end certain uses of NMP and TCE. The EPA should move quickly on plans to finally ban methylene chloride in paint strippers. What's more, the agency shouldn't cook the booksas it considers the fate of asbestos—which causes lung cancer—and other new and old chemicals, as Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., wrote in a letter to Wheeler.
If Andrew Wheeler wants to restore faith in the EPA, he should start by protecting Americans from these toxic chemicals.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that 64 high-income nations have joined an effort to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine fairly, prioritizing the most vulnerable citizens, as Science reported. The program is called the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or Covax, and it is a joint effort led by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Gloria Oladipo
In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.
Toxins in water produced by cyanobacteria was likely responsible for more than 300 elephant deaths in Botswana this year, the country's wildlife department announced on Monday.
How Did Cyanobacteria Poison the Elephants?<p>Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms common in water and sometimes found in soil. Some cyanobacteria produce neurotoxins.</p><p>The cyanobacteria "was growing in pans" or watering holes, the principal veterinary officer of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Mmadi Reuben, told reporters.</p><p>Reuben said the deaths had "stopped towards the end of June 2020, coinciding with the drying of pans."</p><p>"However we have many questions still to be answered such as why the elephants only and why that area only? We have a number of hypotheses we are investigating," added Reuben.</p><p>Similar elephant deaths have also been recorded in neighboring Zimbabwe.</p>
Climate Change to Blame?<p>Not all cyanobacteria are toxic but scientists say varieties dangerous to humans and animals are occurring more frequently as climate change drives up global temperatures.</p><p>Southern Africa's temperatures are rising at twice the global average, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.</p>
Elephant Paradise?<p>Africa's overall elephant population is declining due to poaching. But Botswana, home to almost a third of the continent's elephants, has seen numbers grow to around 130,000.</p><p>Botswana's government said it was continuing studies into the occurrence of the deadly bacteria. In the winter, elephants hydrate themselves mainly by eating roots and bark, especially of the baobab tree.</p>
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By Alexandra Villarreal
As West coast wildfires color the skies dystopian red and orange and an aggressive hurricane season batters the U.S. Gulf coast, college students are demanding their schools take bold action to address the climate crisis.
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The National Hurricane Center has run out of names for tropical storms this year and has now moved on to the Greek alphabet during an extremely active hurricane season. Late Monday night, Tropical Storm Beta became the ninth named storm to make landfall. That's the first time so many named storms have made landfall since 1916, when Woodrow Wilson was president, according to NBC News.
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