The Trump EPA calculated recommended limits of a dangerous chemical sometimes found in drinking water that can harm babies’ brain development that were more than 9 times higher than those imposed by a few states by fudging a key number in the calculation.
The Trump recommended a limit for perchlorate, which can harm infant brain development, of 56 micrograms per liter, far above the limit of 6 that California imposed and 2 that Massachusetts set, more than a decade ago.
“I guess they think it’s just fine to have children have IQ loss,” said Betsy Southerland, a retired EPA official who oversaw science and technology issues in the EPA Office of Water.
Perchlorate, which a GAO study found in the water, soil or sediment of 45 states, is particularly dangerous to babies because it can harm infant brain development if their mothers are exposed to it in food or water while pregnant. Babies can also ingest perchlorate in their mothers’ breast milk or in formula.
Scientists account for uncertainty in calculating such limits with what is known as the “uncertainty factor” to protect the most vulnerable such as infants. Our nation’s public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used a factor of 10 for perchlorate. The Trump EPA cut that by 2/3s to 3.
EPA spokesman Ken Labbe did not have a response for DCReport.org about how the limits were calculated.
Massachusetts virtually eliminated perchlorate from its public drinking water supply with its limit. Testing between 2001 and 2003 found perchlorate levels of 4 micrograms per liter or higher in water systems nationwide serving more than 16.6 million people. Bleach, which water systems use to disinfect water, can degrade into perchlorate. The chemical is also in rocket fuel.
Tell EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler your thoughts on regulating perchlorate. Call Wheeler at 202-564-4700 or write to him at EPA Headquarters / William Jefferson Clinton Building / 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW / Mail Code: 1101A / Washington, D.C. 20460.
The American Water Works Association, which has urged that perchlorate not be regulated, paid for a study that found faults with a more rigorous model that the Obama administration would have used to set limits for perchlorate. The Trump EPA cited that study in recommending the laxer limits.
Neltner said the Trump EPA cherry-picked which studies to use in setting the recommended limit. The Environmental Defense Fund had recommended a limit of 4 micrograms per liter.
“You really get one chance to build a brain,” Neltner said.
The Trump EPA could also impose limits of 18 micrograms or 90 micrograms per liter or decide against regulating perchlorate. The federal advisory limit is 15 micrograms. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler will have the final say.
The proposed regulation is the first new standard the EPA is putting forward for an unregulated contaminant in drinking water in more than 23 years.
Cleaning up perchlorate contamination can cost millions. The EPA reached a $1.1 billion settlement in 2014 to clean up a former chemical manufacturing site in Henderson, Nev. The chemical contaminated Lake Mead.
Trump’s EPA is about to give a big gift to the coal industry
Trump's EPA administrator wants to redraw our nation’s mercury standard to benefit coal-fired power plants that belch out nearly half the nation’s mercury emissions. But the agency’s Science Advisory Board is balking.
The board, headed by Trump administration appointee Michael Honeycutt who previously opposed tougher mercury standards, told the EPA it needed to look again at how much mercury people get from fish and the harm from mercury.
Experts explain how Trump team’s defense against the Bolton bombshell is blowing up in the president’s face
Should former National Security Adviser John Bolton testify in President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial? This question has loomed over the entire proceedings, given Bolton's key role in the events in question, but it garnered heightened urgency when a report broke recently in the New York Times revealing that the ex-Trump aide would likely confirm the core of the Democrats' case against the president.
It still seems Republicans may succeed in quashing any demands for witnesses like Bolton. But as Trump and his attorney responded to the release of Bolton bombshell, they actually strengthened the case for having him testify rather than weakening it. Even if the GOP successfully brings the trial to a swift close, their having accidentally strengthened the case for witnesses may hurt the legitimacy of the Senate's proceedings and undermined Trump's inevitable claims of exoneration.
Scrambling Trump promises to ‘save’ social security after threatening to cut it — but it’s seniors who will pay for his recklessness
It used to be said that cutting Social Security was politics’ third rail, a fatal taking of positions.
If that’s still true, you wouldn’t know it from the emerging attention that cutting Social Security is getting.
Indeed, look at Trump’s handling of Social Security, and you may find real flaws in the armor of a Best-of-All-Time economy cloak that Trump tries to wear.
Even as Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden mix it up over whether Biden did or did not say something supportive about a Republican plan in 2008 by then-Rep. Paul D. Ryan for spending reductions, here comes Donald Trump to promise that he is open to revamping entitlement programs towards the end of the year.