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EPA Proposal Could Raise Radiation Exposure Limits
You can add radiation to the list of pollutants for which the Trump administration is looking to loosen restrictions.
That loosening could come as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) already controversial proposal "Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science," The Associated Press reported Tuesday.
The proposal, which has been criticized by the scientific community for limiting the kinds of studies the EPA can use to make regulatory decisions, could also open the door to raising the safe threshold for exposure to certain toxins, including radiation. That's because it includes a provision instructing regulators to consider "various threshold models across the exposure range" when it comes to setting rules for dangerous substances.
The proposal doesn't mention radiation in particular, but the press release announcing the proposal quoted University of Massachusetts toxicologist Edward Calabrese, who is a proponent of raising the threshold for radiation exposure, saying doing so would save money and boost health. Calabrese, who was set to testify on the proposal at a Congressional hearing Wednesday, believes that small doses of radiation and other carcinogens can actually strengthen the body's ability to repair itself, in the way that exercise or sunlight do.
"The proposal represents a major scientific step forward by recognizing the widespread occurrence of non-linear dose responses in toxicology and epidemiology for chemicals and radiation and the need to incorporate such data in the risk assessment process," Calabrese said in the press release.
Current government regulations say that any exposure to harmful radiation could cause cancer, and opponents of the change say raising that threshold could put nuclear workers, oil and gas employees, medical professionals conducting X-rays or CT scans and people living near Superfund sites or any other radiation leak at risk.
"If they even look at that—no, no, no," said Terrie Barrie, a Craig, Colorado resident and nuclear exposure compensation advocate for her husband and other workers at the closed Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant Terrie Barrie told The Associated Press. "There's no reason not to protect people as much as possible."
Physicist Jan Beyea, who has done work on the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant accident for the National Academy of Sciences, told The Associated Press that the notion advocated by Calabrese and others, that small doses of radiation can be helpful, was "generally dismissed by the great bulk of scientists."
The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements reaffirmed that there was no risk-free level of radiation exposure this year after a review of 29 public health studies.
Up until March, the EPA's online guidance on radiation said that "Current science suggests there is some cancer risk from any exposure to radiation." But an edit in July emphasized low individual cancer risk for small doses of exposure. "According to radiation safety experts, radiation exposures of ... 100 millisieverts usually result in no harmful health effects, because radiation below these levels is a minor contributor to our overall cancer risk," the updated guidance says.
EPA spokesperson John Konkus said Tuesday that the science transparency proposal would not change radiation policy. "The proposed regulation doesn't talk about radiation or any particular chemicals. And as we indicated in our response, EPA's policy is to continue to use the linear-no-threshold model for population-level radiation protection purposes which would not, under the proposed regulation that has not been finalized, trigger any change in that policy," he said.
Public comment on the draft proposal closed in August and the EPA said it would review the more than 590,000 comments it had received this fall.
- Radiation exposure from xrays, mammograms, CT and other scans ... ›
- Cell phone radiation: more questions than answers - CNN ›
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."