The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has acted in ways that have undermined the environmental safety of Americans in recent years. Here are five of the EPA’s most negative impacts on the environment.
1) “Forever Chemicals”
Forever chemicals are poly and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which show up in many common products, such as food wrappers and drinking water. Forever chemicals never break down; they also have been linked to cancer. Since 1998, the EPA has known about the risks associated with PFAS chemicals but generally has not regulated them. The EPA created an ineffectual plan in 2019 that lacked critical deadlines and other elements. In light of failed attempts by Congress to set important deadlines, the EPA weakened a rule that would regulate PFAS in many products.
2) Inadequate Oversight of New Chemicals
In 2016, Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which toughened the approval processes for new chemicals. The TSCA also requires the EPA to produce findings on new chemicals and restrict their use if safety data are lacking. However, Trump’s EPA has used loopholes to approve several new chemicals without adequate data about their effects.
3) Asbestos Scandal
For decades, shipbuilders, manufacturers, and other industries have used asbestos, a toxic substance that has been linked to mesothelioma. Although its toxicity is widely known, the EPA has failed to ban most uses. In April 2019, the EPA began requiring approvals for manufacturers to use asbestos, despite the support of its ban by several EPA personnel.
4) Loopholes for Air Pollution
In July of last year, the EPA set out to create a loophole in the Clean Air Act that reverses requirements for refineries and large power plants to meet strict emissions controls. The loophole allows these polluters to opt-out of previous regulations.
5) Science Censorship
Leaning on the confidentiality of personal and private medical data, the EPA proposed a rule in 2018 that would prevent many human health studies from being publicly available. The EPA backed down from this proposal in September 2019 but then put forth another proposal that would expand the exclusion criteria to all studies, not just “dose-response.”