Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Soft Soaping The Deadly Chemical Inventory: Trump's Motto Ought To Be "Make America Sick Again"

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Yep, sick from everything from salmonella because of rodent feces found in eggs shipped out without regulatory oversight (e.g. 'Egg Recall Stems From Infested Facilities', WSJ, April 21, p. B2) to multiple cancers, including breast, prostate, and the liver cancer that took out  my youngest bro. Trump, aka Dotard, basically wants to gut all essential citizen protections so all the federal agencies charged with regulatory responsibility - say over our food, air and water - can just hit the snooze button while the rest of us get sick. Oh, and at the same time he wants to gut the only available health care so when we DO get salmonella, or breast or prostate cancer, we can't afford to deal with it.

And nowhere is this deplorable approach more pronounced than at Scott Pruitt's EPA. Recall this is the same guy who as Oklahoma’s attorney general described himself as “a leading advocate against the E.P.A.’s activist agenda.”. Barely two months ago this maggot-   who is up to his neck in 12 separate ethics investigations (including getting an aide to try and chase down an old Trump mattress and Ritz Carlton lotion) - said in an interview published in The Daily Caller lthat he would no longer allow the EPA to use studies that include nonpublic scientific data to develop rules to safeguard public health and prevent pollution.

Opponents of the agency and of mainstream climate science had labeled these studies “secret science.” But that is pure, unadulterated balderdash and twaddle.   Peer review ensures that the analytic methodologies underlying studies funded by the agency.  It is the optimum way to learn which chemicals and practices will kill you, give you prostate cancer, or just make you sick as a dog.

Thus, some of those studies, particularly that determine the effects of exposure to chemicals and pollution on health, rely on medical records that by law are confidential because of patient privacy policies. These studies summarize the analysis of raw data and draw conclusions based on that analysis. Other government agencies also use studies like these to develop policy and regulations, and to buttress and defend rules against legal challenges. They are, in fact, essential to making sound public policy.  We ignore them - like Pruitt wants to do - at our own risk.

This doesn't even touch on the studies Pruitt has had terminated such as one last August, by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine into links between surface mining and health. Specifically, the health complications and illnesses that arise form exposure to cola dust in the air and in drinking water.

According to Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences (NY Times, June 10, p. 18):

"We never got a clear reason why it was cancelled."

Well, it's fairly easy to figure out: Pruitt, in debt to the fossil fuel industry for its many campaign donations, rejected any findings that tied inhalation of coal dust, or drinking it - once dissolved in water -  to any brain, lung, liver or prostate cancers. 

But hold strain, the sicknesses may just be getting underway.  According to the latest news (NY Times, June 10, p. 1) the Trump administration, after heavy lobbying by the chemical industry, is scaling back the way the federal government determines health and safety risks associated with the most dangerous chemicals on the market, documents from the Environmental Protection Agency show.

To get a perspective here, under a law passed by Congress during the final year of the Obama administration, the E.P.A. was required for the first time to evaluate hundreds of potentially toxic chemicals and determine if they should face new restrictions, or even be removed from the market. The chemicals include many in everyday use, such as dry-cleaning solvents, paint strippers and substances used in health and beauty products like shampoos and cosmetics.

But under pressure from Pruitt, and as it moves forward reviewing the first batch of 10 chemicals, the E.P.A. has been ordered to exclude from its calculations any potential exposure caused by the substances’ present  in the air, the ground or water, according to more than 1,500 pages of documents released last week by the agency.

Instead - in a "softball" approach,  the agency will focus on possible harm caused by direct contact with a chemical in the workplace or elsewhere.  In other words you will actually have to make direct contact with the carbon tetrachloride or 2, 4 dinitrophenylhydrazine to ascertain that it actually killed or poisoned you. 

The approach means that the improper disposal of chemicals — leading to the contamination of drinking water, for instance — will often not be a factor in deciding whether to restrict or ban them. Fracking companies,  like many here in Colorado, . can then toss out as many drums of hydrogen cyanide as they want with impunity, and no one will be the wiser.  Until people get sick - and maybe not even then.

Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, who retired last year after nearly four decades at the E.P.A., where she ran the toxic chemical unit during her last year. said flatly (ibid.):

“It is ridiculous! You can’t determine if there is an unreasonable risk without doing a comprehensive risk evaluation.”

We know, but the problem is Scott Pruitt won't hear of it.  He'd rather see 100 million sick of asthma, lung cancer, you name it - than lift a finger. Especially when he has special hotel brand lotions to chase down.

But again, we've barely touched the tip of the toxic "iceberg".  For example, while the nation's attention had been focused on the lead in Flint's water supply, few attended to Pruitt's EPA..  It turns out Pruitt has done next to nothing to address the nationwide problem of drinking water contamination. For example, he blocked the release of a study showing that toxic chemicals are contaminating water supplies across the nation.

Among the very real effects of this contamination are: an array of cancers (e.g. esophagus, lungs, prostate, breasts, etc., low birth weight, and thyroid disruption.   Yet the EPA, with Pruitt's consent, sits on a critical report from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry asserting the information will "cause a public relations nightmare."

So what? Ever head the phrase, 'Let justice be done or the heavens fall'?

Here in south central Colorado we've been alerted to the presence of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in our drinking water. This was via recently released EPA emails documenting the agency decision - again under Pruitt - to suppress the truth about PFAs. Dealing with painful or embarrassing prostate cancer treatments, or the horrific effects of chemo to treat breast cancer?  It may well be because you were one of the 60,000 El Paso County residents who ingested PFAS. 

For as long as records show, the "safe" level for PFAS in drinking water had been identified at 12 parts per trillion.   This is compared to the current EPA safe level of 70 parts per trillion, or nearly six times more.  

On the larger scale, over 6 million people across the nation are drinking PFAS- contaminated water.  This, even as we learned (NYTimes, June 9, p. 1) that the Trump Justice Dept. wants to roll back allowance for pre-existing conditions in the ACA. They reckon it's the best way to gut this health insurance program - if they can't repeal it.

If you get cancer in the next few years, perhaps inoperable (like my youngest brother) - or requiring regular chemo as well as radiation, which you will no longer be able to afford, thank Trump.  Oh, and his toxic lap dog, Scott Pruitt.

1 comment:

Darrin Rychlak said...

This is a good write up. The destruction of regulations for the sake of economic expediency is a terrific evil. But this is an 'instant gratification' society in which we live. Environmental damage is usually not readily apparent. Besides, American Gladiators or Dancing with the Stars come on TV tonight.

The only viable tool that We the People have is solidarity. The people who think they own us and the country know this. Divide and conquer is as old a tactic as the hills but it works wonderfully. I am my brother's keeper...unless it cuts into my TV time, or he's black, or a Muslim. Likewise, the Labor Union is a corruption of the free market...why if I do not like the way my boss treats me, I'm free to get different job! I'm free!

My cousin is a professor of law who teaches environmental law. He's also a rightwing lunatic. The closest he can come to acknowledging the existential threat posed by global warming is..."the science is far from settled."

These motherfuckers love money and domination to such an extent that they will let the extirpation of the human race occur for immediate gratification. These low grade humans know what they are doing. They know that their anti-government/anti-regulation shell game will cause pain, misery, and death and they just don't give a fuck. That is insanity. These people are fucking insane. The art of compromise in the political arena is a tough row to hoe when the other side is literally crazy.