Hundreds of people from impacted communities demand EPA hold public meeting on toxic chemical

Residents voice deep concerns over the agency’s failure to protect the public from TCE exposure

March 5, 2020
Sam Lovell, (202) 572-3544,

Today, people from communities across the country impacted by the cancer-causing chemical trichloroethylene (TCE) sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials demanding the agency hold a public meeting on TCE. The nearly 300 individuals, from 18 states, are calling for the meeting to engage directly with EPA around their deep concerns with the agency’s inadequate draft risk evaluation of TCE and failure to adequately protect public health.

TCE is a highly toxic chemical that is linked to a wide range of adverse health impacts – including birth defects from even low levels of prenatal exposure and cancer. Among other problems, EPA’s draft risk evaluation dramatically underestimates the risks of TCE by ignoring all exposures the general public experiences from releases of the chemical to air, land and water – nearly 3 million pounds per year. Additionally, the draft excludes fetal heart defects from determinations of health risks of TCE exposure – a long-held wish of the chemical industry that ignores decades of science and best public health practice.

“For years, we have fought to get answers and action on the trichloroethylene contamination and high pediatric cancer rates in our community,” said Stacie Davidson and Kari Rhinehart of Franklin, Indiana. “EPA ignoring the exposures we face is absolutely unacceptable; the agency is turning its back on us and our children. A public meeting is the chance for us to tell our stories and demand the agency step up to protect communities like ours.” 

A recent investigative story from Reveal highlights deep political interference with the draft risk evaluation for TCE and the chemical industry’s vast influence on the Trump EPA’s activities. The article exposes the role of conflicted political appointees in undermining evidence linking TCE exposure to fetal heart defects and abandoning an established safety benchmark for the chemical. 

“This letter is an important reminder that EPA’s activities on toxic chemicals like trichloroethylene have very real consequences for families across the nation,” said Dr. Jennifer McPartland, Senior Health Scientist at Environmental Defense Fund. “The strong support for a public meeting speaks to the burden of TCE on communities across the country and underscores the urgent need for EPA to fix significant flaws in its draft risk evaluation.”

The letter states, “Our families and our communities are among those that have been significantly impacted by TCE. We are concerned that, if finalized as drafted, this evaluation would lead to inadequate public health protections from this toxic chemical – leaving communities across the country still at risk of harm.”

With hundreds of concerned community members calling on EPA, the agency should move swiftly to organize a public meeting to engage with stakeholders and take action to protect health. The signers are asking for an answer from EPA officials by March 19.  

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