The Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to protect you from toxic chemicals. But the Trump administration is attacking safeguards under the Toxic Substances Control Act — breaking the law and putting your health at grave risk.
5 toxic ways Trump is endangering your health
Suppressing scientific evidence
Formaldehyde causes cancer, asthma and other health problems. It’s released from items all around us — wood products, carpets, insulation and cigarettes — and emitted by a variety of industries.
Yet the Trump EPA’s political leaders have been suppressing the agency’s own scientific assessment of the hazards of formaldehyde. And now, conflicted appointees have begun their own evaluation of the chemical’s risks. They’re already downplaying evidence of formaldehyde’s link to leukemia, an item high on industry’s wish list.
That move will harm our health: These are people who made a living by defending the interests of chemical companies, not ours.
Ignoring real-life chemical exposures
By ignoring some major ways we actually come into contact with chemicals, the EPA is drastically underestimating the health risks, from reproductive and developmental damage to cancer and death.
We’ve calculated that the way the Trump EPA plans to evaluate risks from just seven priority chemicals disregards at least 66 million pounds of toxic emissions released yearly to our air, water and land.
It also disregards releases from more than 600 polluted sites the agency has prioritized for cleanup.
Bottom line: By ignoring major exposures, the agency will be more likely to find that even dangerous chemicals are safe and will not manage their risks to protect the public.
Recklessly approving chemicals
One of the key goals of the overhauled chemical safety law was to ensure that new chemicals — used in everything from couches to clothing to cleaning products — are safe.
Unfortunately, in the face of chemical industry pressure and at the direction of political appointees, the Trump EPA has already approved dozens of new chemicals after only cursory reviews.
Those reviews are weaker than they were under the old law.
This approach puts the public and vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, children and workers, at risk of harmful exposures to dangerous chemicals and serious illness.
Neglecting worker safety
Kevin Hartley was only 21 when he died after being overcome by chemical fumes, while refinishing a bathtub on the job in Tennessee.
He was killed by acute exposure to methylene chloride. The highly toxic chemical in paint strippers is linked to dozens of deaths of workers like Hartley.
In March 2019, the Trump EPA finalized a limited ban on methylene chloride paint strippers, significantly weaker than one originally proposed — while touting it as a victory for public health.
The ban falls short. While it protects consumers, it excludes all commercial uses, even though the vast majority of reported deaths from these products have involved workers.
Disregarding conflicts of interest
The Trump EPA is increasingly dominated by people who have spent much of their careers fighting to block environmental safeguards. Nancy Beck used to be a top staffer at the American Chemistry Council —the industry’s main lobbying group — before she was hand-selected to help oversee the EPA’s toxic chemical office.
At the EPA, she rewrote to industry’s liking the rules that guide how our nation’s chemical safety law works, including how it evaluates the risks of chemicals that are potentially hazardous to our health.
Then, Beck moved to the White House, where she has exerted even greater influence over chemicals policy – including by leading efforts to weaken a rule restricting toxic “forever chemicals” in consumer products.
And now she’s been nominated by President Trump to lead the Consumer Product Safety Commission– a post responsible for ensuring the safety of baby cribs, children’s toys, and much more. If confirmed by the Senate to that position, she would hold it through 2025.
What can you do?
Don’t let the Trump EPA roll back the critical progress we’ve made on chemical safety. Tell Congress to demand that the EPA follow the law and take actions needed to protect public health.