In his first year in office, President Trump has wreaked devastating damage on public health protections against hazardous chemicals. He has reversed or indefinitely postponed chemical bans, rubber-stamped new chemicals, cooked the books when assessing older chemicals, postponed rules to protect farm and factory workers, and appointed chemical safety officials who have spent decades defending chemicals for polluters.
Let’s take a look at the details. So far, Trump has:
- Reversed chemical bans. Trump has reversed a proposed ban of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that can permanently harm kids’ brains. He also indefinitely delayed proposed bans on methylene chloride, a toxic chemical in paint strippers that has killed at least 50 people in recent decades, and TCE, a known carcinogen that poses special risks to pregnant women. Trump also postponed a decision on whether to ban NMP, which is used in paint and coating strippers, and is also a developmental toxin.
- Rubber-stamped new chemicals. At the request of chemical companies, Trump has allowed dozens of new chemicals into commerce without adequate safety reviews, violating the nation’s new chemical safety law. What’s more, he has decided to hide any concerns Environmental Protection Agency scientists might have with new chemicals from the public.
- Cooked the books. Under pressure from industry, Trump’s EPA violated the new chemical safety law by using junk science to review old chemicals that have been linked to cancer and reproductive problems. For example, Trump has excluded many uses from the EPA’s review of cancer-causing substances like asbestos and 1,4-dioxane, and changed agency rules to give less weight to the unique impacts of toxic chemicals on children and other vulnerable groups.
- Undermined worker safety. Trump delayed a rule designed to prevent catastrophic accidents at chemical manufacturing plants until at least 2019. Just months after Trump’s decision, flooding from Hurricane Harvey caused an explosion at a Texas chemical plant. Trump also delayed implementation of new protections for farm workers from toxic pesticides, and recently announced plans to revise – read: weaken – farm worker standards in 2018.
- Put industry lobbyists and lawyers in charge. Trump’s nominees and appointees to oversee chemical safety include a long-time chemical industry lobbyist, the industry’s favorite scientist-for-hire and a lawyer who once defended a company that made toys contaminated with lead. He’s also purged the EPA’s science advisory panels of contrary voices. This week, Trump renominated a White House environment czar who cooked the books to hide radiation in tap water.
- Cut funding for the EPA and the Food and Drug Administration. Trump’s first budget proposed deep cuts to both the EPA and the FDA, undermining their efforts to review the safety of chemicals in consumer products and food.
- Hidden chemical risks. As EWG has documented again and again, the chemical industry has abused so-called trade secret claims to keep safety information from the public. Now, in violation of the new chemical safety law, Trump’s EPA is again proposing to let industry hide risks about chemicals and their uses.
- Ignored pesticide risks. Trump’s EPA has claimed the pesticide glyphosate is not likely to cause cancer (contradicting other experts), granted “emergency” approvals of toxic pesticides and delayed a review of the impacts of three organophosphate pesticides on endangered species. Over the next three years, Trump will make big decisions on the fate of chlorpyrifos, glyphosate, atrazine, malathion, and five different neonicotinoids, which have been linked to bee deaths.
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