Trump EPA’s draft evaluation of cancer-causing TCE cuts corners, putting kids’ health at risk

Statement of EDF Senior Health Scientist, Dr. Jennifer McPartland

February 21, 2020
Sam Lovell, (202) 572-3544,

(Washington, DC – February 21, 2020) “Today, the Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled its draft risk evaluation for the known human carcinogen trichloroethylene (TCE), which – as in previous draft risk evaluations – fails to conform with the nation’s updated chemical safety law, won’t sufficiently protect the public’s or workers’ health and reverses the agency’s longstanding science policies. 

“While we have yet to fully scrutinize the draft, the following alarming details bear highlighting now:

  • EPA once again ignores all exposures and risks to the general public. This means ignoring nearly 3 million pounds of TCE released annually to air, water, and land. 
  • EPA has excluded fetal heart defects from determinations of health risks of TCE exposure. This decision is grave; it not only underestimates the lifelong risks of the chemical, especially to the developing fetus, it also presents yet another example of this administration bowing to polluters’ interests over public health protection. 

“With this draft risk evaluation, the agency is turning its back on its most recent, peer-reviewed assessment of TCE, which used the most sensitive effect – fetal cardiac defects, supported by a diverse body of scientific evidence – as the key driver for determining TCE’s risks to human health. That prior assessment followed long-standing agency policy and practice to use the most sensitive endpoint supported by sufficient evidence to evaluate risks to public health. In abandoning that strong precedent, EPA has now, on dubious grounds, chosen to use less sensitive endpoints, effectively putting public health at greater risk.

“We will be submitting extensive comments to the agency detailing the above and other concerns.”

- Dr. Jennifer McPartland, Senior Health Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund

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