Toxic consequences of Trump’s chemical safety attacks

EDF report details attempts to weaken the chemical safety reform law

Report published: June 2019

Concern over toxic exposures and a lack of confidence in the badly outdated chemical safety system led all sides to come together in 2016 to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act and finally give the EPA the power to strengthen health protections for American families and the environment. But three years later, the promise of the reformed law and the chance to better protect the public’s health is being actively undermined by the Trump EPA.

EDF’s June 2019 report details some of the major threats to public health and future generations from the Trump EPA’s actions to undercut the law and weaken the chemical safety system.

Key attacks on chemical safety

  • Approving new chemicals without regard for the law or public health. EPA has greenlighted over 80% of the chemicals it reviewed between July 2018 and June 2019—clearing them for unrestricted use in everything from air fresheners and carpets to motor oil and paint—defying the law’s requirement that EPA regulate the clear risks it identified for some of these chemicals and require testing for others that lack enough information to determine the risks.
  • Ignoring real-world exposures when evaluating risks of existing chemicals. Using data available on seven of the first ten chemicals being evaluated under TSCA, EDF has calculated that EPA’s approach fails to account for over 66 million pounds of toxic emissions released to the air, water, and soil every year and releases from over 600 Superfund sites.
  • Blocking or weakening bans of toxic chemicals. The Trump EPA has abandoned or scaled back bans on dangerous uses of three chemicals EPA proposed under the Obama Administration, leaving at least one million people across the country directly exposed.

The success of TSCA reform was borne out of a collective understanding that our nation’s chemical safety system was ineffective, and that there was a clear need to ensure chemicals on the market are safe for human health and the environment.

But this monumental achievement is now at risk—as is our health—because of the elevation of narrow private interests over the public interest by the current administration and its allies in Congress and industry.

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