International news

US: regulation of chemical risks in jeopardy

Since the election of Donald Trump in the White House, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has shifted its policy focus towards reducing the 'regulatory burden' on the chemical industry. Public health and occupational health have been sacrificed for the benefit of business interests.

Current EPA policy is chipping away at the hierarchy of prevention measures. Instead of eliminating the risks at source when safer alternatives exist, the EPA now considers a ban as just one of many possible measures, and that in some cases simple mitigation of the risks could be enough. An example of this is the withdrawal of the planned ban of a solvent used as a paint-stripper: dichloromethane (DCM or methylene chloride). Tens of thousands of workers are exposed to it, despite it being highly toxic and the cause of many deaths each year. Use of DCM in most of its applications - including paint-stripping - has been  banned in the European Union since 2010. (Note it is not banned in Australia, but has an exposure standard, TWA of 50ppm).
Source: HesaMag#20, ETUI

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