Quantcast

To Rebuild Trust After Pruitt, EPA Should Ban These Toxic Chemicals

Health + Wellness

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.

No wonder Pruitt's approval rating was even lower than President Trump's—that is, before the scandal-plagued administrator "resigned" last week.

This week, acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler replaced Pruitt. But it will take more than a commitment to greater transparency, which Wheeler pledged, to rebuild trust in Trump's EPA.

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.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An aerial view of a neighborhood destroyed by the Camp Fire on Nov. 15, 2018 in Paradise, Calif. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Respecting scientists has never been a priority for the Trump Administration. Now, a new investigation from The Guardian revealed that Department of the Interior political appointees sought to play up carbon emissions from California's wildfires while hiding emissions from fossil fuels as a way to encourage more logging in the national forests controlled by the Interior department.

Read More
Slowing deforestation, planting more trees, and cutting emissions of non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases like methane could cut another 0.5 degrees C or more off global warming by 2100. South_agency / E+ / Getty Images

By Dana Nuccitelli

Killer hurricanes, devastating wildfires, melting glaciers, and sunny-day flooding in more and more coastal areas around the world have birthed a fatalistic view cleverly dubbed by Mary Annaïse Heglar of the Natural Resources Defense Council as "de-nihilism." One manifestation: An increasing number of people appear to have grown doubtful about the possibility of staving-off climate disaster. However, a new interactive tool from a climate think tank and MIT Sloan shows that humanity could still meet the goals of the Paris agreement and limit global warming.

Read More
Sponsored
A baby burrowing owl perched outside its burrow on Marco Island, Florida. LagunaticPhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Burrowing owls, which make their homes in small holes in the ground, are having a rough time in Florida. That's why Marco Island on the Gulf Coast passed a resolution to pay residents $250 to start an owl burrow in their front yard, as the Marco Eagle reported.

Read More
Amazon and other tech employees participate in the Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice continue to protest today. Karen Ducey / Getty Images

Hundreds of Amazon workers publicly criticized the company's climate policies Sunday, showing open defiance of the company following its threats earlier this month to fire workers who speak out on climate change.

Read More
Locusts swarm from ground vegetation as people approach at Lerata village, near Archers Post in Samburu county, approximately 186 miles north of Nairobi, Kenya on Jan. 22. "Ravenous swarms" of desert locusts in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia threaten to ravage the entire East Africa subregion, the UN warned on Jan. 20. TONY KARUMBA / AFP / Getty Images

East Africa is facing its worst locust infestation in decades, and the climate crisis is partly to blame.

Read More