Why the EPA Can’t Manage to Ban Known Carcinogens

The EPA has the authority to ban certain substances from being used in our food and water supply. When it comes to some of these dangerous chemicals, they have found success in banning them without waiting for more scientific research. Unfortunately, other carcinogens like asbestos can’t be banned because there is not enough evidence yet as they are on the books already.

The “what are pcbs and why are they toxic” is a question that many people have asked. The EPA has been unable to ban known carcinogens because of the lack of funding.

Why the EPA Can't Manage to Ban Known Carcinogens

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has only examined the safety of 570 chemicals out of 80,000 already on the market. Only five substances have been prohibited by the EPA. Isn’t your name on it? Asbestos, formaldehyde, BPAs, and other toxins have all been linked to cancer.

Before you dismiss the EPA as an inefficient organization that should be dissolved entirely, as some members of Congress have suggested, it’s vital to consider the many hurdles the agency confronts in regulating harmful compounds.

Almost every stumbling block may be traced back to the chemical or energy industries. To resist the EPA, industry lobbyists have tried every trick in the book, including disparaging the agency’s chemical evaluations, funding their own positive research, and delaying the publishing of the agency’s findings, all while bribing academics and politicians to back them.

Until proven guilty, chemicals are thought to be safe.

There were no criteria for testing or fulfilling safety standards for 62,000 compounds that were grandfathered into the system.

The faulty Harmful Substances Control Act (TSCA), which regulates the EPA’s examination of toxic substances, is at the basis of the agency’s issues.

62,000 chemicals were grandfathered into the system when it was approved in 1976, with no requirements for testing or fulfilling safety criteria. The roughly 20,000 chemicals that have entered the market after the TSCA’s implementation are practically as good as being grandfathered in. The EPA’s ability to request safety data on a new chemical is severely restricted, enabling new compounds to enter the market with little knowledge of their effects.

The legislation is written in such a way that it benefits the chemical sector, since substances are assumed to be safe unless the EPA proves otherwise. However, in the European Union, this is backwards: firms must justify the safety of new chemicals before they are allowed on the market.

In 2016, Congress revised the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) more jurisdiction to examine and prohibit substances. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a list of ten priority chemicals for evaluation in December, which included asbestos. Despite the fact that it is a welcome move, detractors believe that the new measure would erode effective state chemical safety legislation and will not speed up the review process. 


The Environmental Protection Agency’s Assessments Have a “Highest Risk of Failure”

The EPA must undertake its own official examination of existing research on a substance’s safety and effects before banning or regulating it.

The Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) examines chemical studies to establish the acceptable amount of exposure in the air, food, water, and soil. Regulators then utilize these findings to limit or prohibit the use of particular substances.

An IRIS review is a big endeavor that takes seven years to complete on average. The EPA claims that in order to conduct its job properly, it has to do 50 of these evaluations each year. Despite this, an average of five substances were assessed each year under the Bush administration. Obama’s administration wasn’t any better, with the EPA completing just one review in 2014. However, this was an improvement over 2015, when there was no report at all.

In 2011, over 400 of the 500 compounds in the IRIS program under consideration had been in development for more than ten years.

This has gotten a lot of attention. IRIS had the “greatest risk of failure” of any federal government agency, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2009.

“Scientists for Hire” are used by the chemical industry.

TSCA-Reform-Infographic Center for Environmental Health is the source of this information.

What’s the deal with these sluggish reviews? Lobbyists from the business community are the majority.

The chemical industry’s major weapon is the delay of research. Not only does requiring the EPA to seek second opinions, make revisions, re-present their findings, go through another round of evaluations, and so on delay report release by years, but it also makes the agency seem less respectable.

“‘Oh, wow!’ I’ve never heard the chemical industry exclaim. All of these facts and the public literature indicate that we should begin using this drug with caution.’ They have consistently defended their product, attempting to prove that it is safer or less dangerous than independent research suggest, in my experience “In an article for Time magazine, Jennifer Sass, a scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), claimed

Chemical firms, according to the NRDC, will conduct their own studies to resolve “debates” within the scientific community (debates which only exist in pro-industry minds).

In contrast to 60% of non-industry investigations, 14% of industry studies identified substances like formaldehyde to be dangerous.

Unsurprisingly, industry-funded research favors the industry. According to a research by the Center for Public Integrity, 14 percent of corporate studies on carcinogens like atrazine and formaldehyde (which have yet to be outlawed) showed these chemicals to be harmful, compared to 60% of non-industry studies.

Critical Reviews in Analytical Chemistry and Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology are two pro-industry scientific publications. According to a Vice investigation, one Harvard researcher, Philippe Grandjean, joined the Critical Reviews editorial board in the hopes of forming a scientific partnership, but resigned after the board published two articles denying OSHA’s research linking lung cancer to diesel fumes solely to raise public doubt.

Companies will arrange seminars to examine the findings once they are released, and they will be staffed by industry-funded experts who will conclude what the business wants to hear: that the chemical of concern is safe.

Gradient, whose clientele include the American Chemistry Council (ACC), an organisation that represents chemical firms, is one such entity that is often represented. According to the Center for Public Integrity, industry-backed outlets published half of the articles written by Gradient scientists. They’ve been dubbed “scientists for hire” by critics.

Even if specialists are aware of the warning signs to look for in industry-funded research, the more of it there is, the more perplexing the topic becomes. “The problem is that it really muddies the independent scientific literature,” Jennifer Sass said in a Vice piece.

EPA Reviews Have Ties to Industry, According to a Whistleblower

“As a result of the investigation, this business was granted another another exception from federal law.”

During the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s “Making EPA Great Again” congressional hearing earlier this month, critics argued that the EPA’s research lacks sufficient peer review—that they only work with those who share their anti-industry, pro-green viewpoints, resulting in the agency operating in a “echo chamber,” as Rep. Lucas (R-OK) put it.

Dr. Kimberly White, a scientist with the American Chemistry Council, was one of those asked to speak at the hearing. She underlined the need of enabling various voices from across the sector to examine and contribute to the EPA’s assessments, rather of relying only on the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, which, it should be noted, recruits members via a public open-call for nominations.

When pro-industry organizations, such as the American Chemistry Council, have a say in EPA evaluations, the quality of the findings frequently suffers.

The EPA looked at whether hydrofracking should be included by the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2004. Early on, a draft mentioned hazardous amounts of pollution produced by hydrofracking, as well as the possibility of aquifer contamination. The method, however, “poses little or no harm to drinking water,” according to the final assessment.

According to Weston Wilson, an EPA whistleblower, “the research ended up providing the foundation for this company gaining yet another exemption from federal law when it should have resulted in stronger oversight of this sector.” Five of the seven members of the review group have links to the oil and gas business, he claimed.

(For page 2, see below.)

The Formaldehyde 17-Year Review

Charles and David Koch, the proprietors of the formaldehyde manufacturer Georgia-Pacific, are among the biggest political contributors.

The chemical industry’s delaying tactics are well shown by formaldehyde. In 1989, the EPA designated the substance as a “probable carcinogen.” It took almost 17 years for the EPA to designate it as a “known carcinogen,” a classification shared by the International Association of Cancer Research and the National Cancer Institute.

Formaldehyde is a kind of glue used in the manufacture of plywood, which is often seen in furniture, flooring, and cabinets. Off-gassing of formaldehyde is a type of indoor pollution that may lead to respiratory issues and leukemia.

After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the harmful health effects of formaldehyde exposure became clear. Displaced victims were given FEMA trailers, but the inhabitants quickly complained of respiratory difficulties. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) admitted the trailers’ formaldehyde levels were unhealthy more than three years later and urged tenants to move.

However, the formaldehyde industry threatened the EPA at every step, preventing it from publishing a definitive review of the carcinogen and, as a result, setting exposure limits.

Charles and David Koch, the proprietors of the formaldehyde manufacturer Georgia-Pacific, are among the biggest political contributors. Koch Industries paid Senator James Inhofe $6,000 a year before buying Georgia-Pacific in 2005. (R-Okla.). Inhofe postponed the formaldehyde evaluation, citing the need for more thorough investigation. Inhofe’s activities were explicitly connected to the formaldehyde assessment delay by the Government Accountability Office later in 2008.

In 2009, the industry employed the same strategy. Senator David Vitter (R-La. ), who received $20,500 from formaldehyde producers that year, blocked Dr. Paul Anastas’ appointment to the EPA’s Office of Research and Development in order to force another round of reviews by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a nonprofit that represents the country’s top scientists.

Senator David Vitter, who got $20,500 from formaldehyde makers, obstructed Dr. Paul Anastas’ nomination to the EPA in order to compel a new round of evaluations.

Apart from not wanting to prolong the review, the EPA prefers to have their study assessed by its Science Advisory Board since it takes 12 to 16 months and costs $200,000, compared to a NAS review, which takes 18 to 24 months and may cost $1 million. In addition, NAS researchers have been linked to industry-funded research.

The EPA ultimately released a draft study in 2010 that said that a lifetime of typical indoor formaldehyde exposure would result in a one in 1,000 probability of acquiring cancer. The NAS finished its evaluation after 14 months and advised that the report be updated to better clarify the scientific findings—despite finding no flaws in the study or its conclusions. Regardless, the American Chemistry Council cited the National Academy of Sciences’ statements to bolster its assaults on the EPA’s studies.

The EPA produced a fresh version of the evaluation in 2014, and the National Academy of Sciences approved it, affirming that formaldehyde is a recognized carcinogen. The ACC said that the NAS had “[lost] a chance to progress science.”

The EPA’s Rule on Formaldehyde in Composite Wood Products, which sets maximum emission limits, was meant to go into effect this year, but the new administration has put it on hold.

Scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency are being pressured to downplay the findings.

Jess Rowland, an EPA scientist, has been accused of playing “political cunning games with science.”

A wrong evaluation, on the other hand, is much more concerning than a delayed one. According to EPA whistleblowers, scientists are sometimes forced to change or minimize findings due to industry pressure.

The EPA’s 2010 examination into the consequences of fracking on drinking water offered proof of this.

More than 3,000 pages of internal records showed strong relationships between the Environmental Protection Agency and Chesapeake Energy, a major participant in the fracking sector. “[Y]ou guys are part of the team here…please fill things in as you see appropriate,” one EPA staffer wrote on a report draft.

Due to industry pressures, the study’s principal scientific aim of measuring contamination levels before and after fracking at two well locations was abandoned. Not unexpectedly, the research concluded that there was no evidence of “widespread, systematic” fracking-related drinking water contamination.

The Science Advisory Board finished its examination of the research in August 2016, dissatisfied with the findings. Twenty-six of the thirty reviewers signed a letter criticizing the report’s findings, claiming that there was insufficient data to back them up.

The EPA’s review of glyphosate (commonly known as Roundup), the world’s most widely used herbicide, has a similar blurring of facts.

The International Association of Cancer Research and the state of California have designated glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen,” and have been at odds with the chemical’s maker, Monsanto, ever since. Monsanto sued California for attempting to designate it as a carcinogen (which California won earlier this year), and the IARC is presently facing a public relations effort aimed at undermining the institution as a whole.


Roundup has been linked to a variety of health concerns, including lymphatic cancer and celiac disease, posing risks to both those who apply the herbicide and those who consume Roundup-treated crops.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) produced a study certifying that glyphosate was not a carcinogen, however it was shortly taken down due to incomplete data.

However, a court document from earlier this year suggests that Monsanto is attempting to influence the agency. In the petition, EPA toxicologist Marion Copley accuses EPA scientist Jess Rowland of pressuring workers to falsify studies to minimize the dangers of glyphosate.

Rowland was one of the writers of an EPA study declaring the herbicide safe; however, the report was shortly removed, citing the need for further research. Copley accuses Rowland of playing “political cunning tricks with science” in the email.

The glyphosate review will be published in 2017—it has already been postponed by two years.  

Defend Yourself Against the Chemical Industry

Consumers and employees in the United States continue to be diagnosed with cancer and other illnesses as a result of exposure to hazardous compounds such as glyphosate, formaldehyde, and asbestos. It’s terrible enough that these firms make and utilize such dangerous chemicals, but by stopping the EPA from establishing exposure limitations and limits, they’re putting profits ahead of the health and safety of countless Americans.

ClassAction.com can assist you in holding manufacturers responsible for exposing you or a loved one to a carcinogen or other toxic substance. For a free, no-obligation case evaluation, contact our legal team now.

The “what are organic pollutants” is a legal term that refers to substances that are not toxic, but still pose a risk for human health. For example, pesticides and other chemicals. The EPA has been trying to ban these pollutants for years, but they have failed because the substances are considered “natural.”

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you prevent carcinogens?

A: I am not a doctor, so I dont know the answer to this.

Is Carcinogenic a hazardous waste?

A: Carcinogenic is not considered to be hazardous waste because it does not meet the definition of hazardous waste. Hazardous wastes are those that could harm human health or the environment if improperly handled.

How many chemicals are currently banned by the EPA in the United States?

A: There are no chemicals that have been banned by the EPA in the United States.

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