EPA, a weakling

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

It is official now: the us Environment Protection Agency (epa) doesn't do much. And the admission has come from the Government Accountability Office (gao), the us Congress' investigative agency. A recent gao report says the epa hasn't collected data on the risks of tens of thousands of toxic chemicals introduced in the us market in the past 30 years. It suggests that the Toxic Substances Control Act, 1976 (tsca), be amended to give epa more power to source health data and regulate the use of harmful chemicals.

tsca prevents epa from forcibly extracting health information from companies, save in the face of extremely strong evidence that a particular chemical is harmful. As a result, epa has the health assessment of only about 15 per cent of the toxic chemicals introduced in the country's market; it sought information on less than 200 of these.

epa' s response to the report has been interesting. It said it was "proud of the progress that we have made in protecting human health and the environment". Amendments to tsca are not needed, said epa principal deputy assistant administrator Susan B Hazen in a written statement, as " epa believes that there is currently strong legal authority" for testing the chemicals.

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