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Trump’s EPA slows down review of toxic chemicals

Chemicals in BeakersUnder the direction of top political appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency, scientists were told to “limit” chemical safety assessments, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.

The GAO audit was requested by Senator Tom Carper, Del., the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Carper asked the GAO to investigate how the EPA is carrying out the Toxic Substances Control Act and its Integrated Risk Information System, or IRIS, program.

In June 2018, the office of then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt “told IRIS officials that they could not release any IRIS-associated documentation” without formal permission from top political leadership from the chemicals safety division at EPA, according to the GAO investigation. By October, the scientists were informed they must cut back on the number of chemical safety assessments.

Until January, Nancy Beck – a former chemical industry official – was in charge of chemical policy at the agency. 

“The GAO report is further evidence the Trump administration and Administrator Wheeler are working to cook the books on behalf of the chemical industry,” said Melanie, legislative attorney for the Environmental Working Group.

Up until 2017 the agency’s mission was to protect public health from toxic chemicals and other contaminants, Benesh said.

“But, as the GAO report describes, actively slowing down chemical safety reviews, silencing career scientists, and ignoring main pathways of exposure to dangerous chemicals is now a typical day’s work at the Trump EPA,” she said.


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