In other environmental news: the EPA, in an unprecedented act, has failed to publish a chemical risk assessment in over 28 years. They finally broke this shockingly long duration last month with their assessment of trichloroethylene (TCE).
via Al Jazeera America:
This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hit a major milestone that some people, including leaders at the agency itself, think shouldn’t be celebrated.
On Wednesday, the agency released a final risk assessment for trichloroethylene (TCE), an industrial solvent used by artists, car mechanics, dry cleaners and others. The EPA’s in-depth report, released after a two-year analysis, shows that long-term exposure to TCE can cause cancer and other health issues, and recommends that workers take serious precautions if they must use TCE.
But in its press release, the EPA acknowledged there was something wrong — not with the risk assessment itself — but with its timeline: It was the first final risk assessment for a chemical issued by the EPA since 1986.
“The American public shouldn’t have to wait 28 years between … chemical risk assessments,” wrote Jim Jones, EPA assistant administrator of chemical safety and pollution prevention, in a blog post. “As the old adage goes, you have to walk before you can run.”
At issue is the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the 38-year-old legislation that guides the EPA’s chemical review process. The EPA says the law is “badly in need of modernization,” and most lawmakers, chemical industry stakeholders and environmental experts agree.
The law essentially says that any chemical in use before the TSCA was passed is considered safe until proven otherwise and can be used without EPA oversight. That amounts to 62,000 chemicals, according to the EPA.
The EPA says the TSCA is the only major environmental law that has not been modernized.
The EPA and environmentalists contend that there are thousands of potentially dangerous chemicals in widespread use today. They can be found in everything from agricultural products like fertilizers to flame retardants that are used on things like airplane seats and kids’ toys.
Read the rest from Al Jazeera America.