Ep. 42: Read the Label: Chemical Safety Under the EPA

 After intense lobbying by the chemical industry, the EPA is scaling back how it will determine safety risks associated with toxic substances available on the market. Photo: Sue Sapp / U.S. Air Force 

After intense lobbying by the chemical industry, the EPA is scaling back how it will determine safety risks associated with toxic substances available on the market. Photo: Sue Sapp / U.S. Air Force 

Recently the Environmental Protection Agency did an about face on a chemical that’s been linked to dozens of deaths since 1980. The agency announced it would move forward “shortly” with a rule on methylene chloride. Under the Obama administration, EPA proposed a ban on the chemical for certain uses, but Scott Pruitt’s EPA put that on hold. The reversal came a couple of days after administrator Pruitt met with families whose loved ones had died of exposure to methylene chloride.

This week on the program --- chemicals, and the EPA’s role in regulating them to protect public health and the environment.

We hear from one mother whose son died in February after inhaling fumes while he was using a commercially-available paint stripper to refinish his bike. 

“My son's death is not going to be in vain if it can help one person not get hurt,” Lauren Atkins says. “And I'm going to speak up. My voice is going to be heard by anyone [who] will listen.”

And we also go deep into chemical regulation policy with Pat Rizzuto, a reporter for Bloomberg Environment who has been covering the chemical beat for almost 20 years.

Rizzuto says that consumers just don’t read labels. Or, if they do read them, they don’t understand how serious they can be. 

>>LISTEN to the entire episode to hear more about how the way EPA regulates chemicals is changing. 

>>READ Pat Rizzuto's meticulous reporting on the chemical industry

>>LEARN about the Toxic Substances Control Act

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This episode was hosted by Kara Holsopple and produced by Andy Kubis. Trump on Earth is produced by The Allegheny Front, a Pittsburgh-based environmental reporting project.

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