Archives for the day of: January 6, 2011

From The Daily Green:

President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency administrator has made good on something she calls a top priority: Testing chemicals used widely in the U.S. that have never been assessed for the risks they might pose to human health or the environment.

It’s the same priority, in essence, that Congress set in 1976 when it passed the Toxic Substances Control Act, but 35 years later that act is “widely considered a failure” by watchdogs who note that the law exempted 62,000 chemicals already on the market in 1976, and another 22,000 have since been introduced without first undergoing rigorous testing for health and environmental risks.

Testing of human blood and urine routinely turns up dozens of synthetic chemicals, some with known toxic effects like cancer, developmental and reproductive problems and liver toxicity; but many more with unknown effects, but possibly including a range of health problems, from obesity to autism.

Which is why those watchdogs are expressing only reserved praise for Jackson’s announcement this week that the EPA would require companies to test 19 “high production volume” chemicals (so-called HPV chemicals are manufactured in excess of 1 million pounds every year). The 19 target chemicals are the stragglers: EPA managed to get information about 2,200 chemicals by asking companies to volunteer the information; the makers of these 19 chemicals did not comply with that request, so now the EPA is demanding it.

The 19 chemicals don’t have names that most Americans would recognize, but they are used in a range of consumer goods and industrial processes, from personal care products and dyes to metalworking, demolition and fingerprinting.

“This chemical data reporting will provide EPA with critical information to better evaluate any potential risks from these chemicals that are being produced in large quantities in this country,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “Having this information is essential to improve chemical safety and protect the health of the American people and the environment.”

More . . .

High Country News: Farming’s toxic legacy.

Nothing about the quiet summer morning suggests a reason to worry. Two-year-old Kian plays happily in the dirt of the empty lot where his family’s new house will eventually stand. Nearby, his mother, Tara Compton, points out interesting “buggies,” and when he toddles down the steep hillside, she holds his hand. Dust rises from the soil as though from a phantom stampede, and dirt covers the little boy’s hands and face. “This is where I plan to grow our garden,” says Compton, pointing to a wide plot of earth near a peach tree that yields delicious fruit. She’s pregnant, but with her tall, strong build, it hardly shows.. More . . .

Greenwire: At midlife of Superfund, unending cleanups and less ‘real money.’

In the current era of high-priced bailouts and even higher deficits, the nickname for U.S. EPA’s signature toxic-waste cleanup program sounds quaint: “Superfund.”

But the planned $1.6 billion fund, at the time of its creation, 30 years ago this week, was huge enough to be “super.”

“In those days, that was real money,” recalled Thomas Jorling, EPA’s waste chief during the genesis of the Superfund law. The money was aimed at unchecked and abandoned chemical waste sites that seemed to proliferate in the United States as the 1980s dawned, prompting widespread anxiety over risks to public health.

But its anachronistic label may be the only aspect of Superfund that has not evolved since its birth. The number of waste sites on EPA’s National Priorities List (NPL), reserved for areas with the most intense contamination, has tripled from its initial target of 400. More advanced cleanup technology is put into practice with each passing year, and the role of states as well as companies found responsible for pollution has grown as Superfund matures.  More . . .

Associated Press: NJ enacts toughest US rules on fertilizer.

New Jersey adopted the nation’s toughest restrictions on fertilizer Wednesday as part of a package of bills signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie to protect the fragile Barnegat Bay from further pollution.

Runoff from fertilizer applied to lawns and farms eventually makes its way into waterways and contributes to water pollution and fish-killing algae blooms.

The bills require upgrades to malfunctioning storm drains, force contractors to loosen soil that becomes hard-packed.  More . . .

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