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Bush Administration Prevented Regulation of Perchlorate In Drinking Water

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Mendenhall Glacier Melt Off

Mendenhall Glacier Melt Off

Simply and unequivocally criminal. Disgustingly craven, and a lot more besides. We wrote about this travesty back in November, 2008.

The EPA’s controversial 2008 decision not to regulate a drinking water contaminant long connected to impaired brain development and decreased learning capability in infants had more to do with the interests of the Bush administration than with scientific findings regarding its safety, according to a report (146 page PDF) released Tuesday by a congressional watchdog agency, the LA Times reports.

Perchlorate is a toxin in rocket fuel and fireworks, is present in most states’ drinking water, lettuce and milk, and is found in high concentrations near current and former military bases as a byproduct of weapons testing. The E.P.A. currently says it could be contaminating the public wells supplying anywhere from 5 million to 17 million Americans. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to look into the EPA’s evaluation of the known thyroid-disturbant, and found that the path to the no-regulation decision “used a process and scientific analyses that were atypical, lacked transparency, and limited the agency’s independence in developing and communicating scientific findings.”

Instead of the EPA’s usual process—which begins with creating a work group of “professional staff with relevant expertise from across the agency”—the Agency placed a “less inclusive, small group of high-level officials” in charge of the deliberations.

These high-level members included officials who answered directly to the White House, from the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture. NASA and the Department of Defense were part of the board as well.

Not included in the work group was the Office of Children’s Health Protection, a bureau essentially created for this purpose, despite the EPA’s conclusion of the risk perchlorate poses to pregnant women and children. The chemical can inhibit iodide uptake, causing increased the risk of neurodevelopmental impairment in fetuses of pregnant women, and contribute to developmental delays and decreased learning capability in infants and children, according to the report.

“Everyone who’s paying attention knows that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson is acutely tuned-in to the political signals coming from the White House – so tuned-in that his conversations with the executive branch have become a form of highly privileged state secret,” Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope told NBC in 2008.


The GAO report also found significant flaws in the actual testing process. The work group chose to use data from a 2005 National Academy of Sciences report, which was based primarily on the results of a single two-week clinical study which did not include infants or children younger than six years old.


(click here to continue reading Bush Administration, Not Science, Prevented Regulation of Toxin In Drinking Water | TPMMuckraker.)

No Dumping - Drains to Creek
No Dumping – Drains to Creek

Luckily, the Obama administration is a huge improvement in this area at least, and reversed this Bush era mistake last February.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 13th, 2011 at 2:09 pm

US rice imports contain harmful levels of lead

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Sewer Cleaning and Data Management
Sewer Cleaning and Data Management

Yummy, arsenic and lead! Gotta love our toxic society.

Analysis of commercially available rice imported into the US has revealed it contains levels of lead far higher than regulations suggest are safe.

Some samples exceeded the “provisional total tolerable intake” (PTTI) set by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by a factor of 120.

The report at the American Chemical Society Meeting adds to the already well-known issue of arsenic in rice.

The FDA told the BBC it would review the research (eventually).

Rice, Steam and Wine
Rice, Steam and Wine

Dr Tsanangurayi Tongesayi of Monmouth University in New Jersey, US, and his team have tested a number of imported brands of rice bought from local shops.

The US imports about 7% of its rice, and the team sampled packaged rice from Bhutan, Italy, China, Taiwan, India, Israel, the Czech Republic and Thailand – which accounts for 65% of US imports.

The team measured the lead levels in each country-category and calculated the lead intake on the basis of daily consumption. The results will be published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Health (Part B).

“When we compared them, we realised that the daily exposure levels are much higher than those PTTIs,” said Dr Tongesayi.

“According to the FDA, they have to be more than 10 times the PTTI levels (to cause a health concern), and our values were two to 12 times higher than those 10 times,” he told BBC News.

“If you look through the scientific literature, especially on India and China, they irrigate their crops with raw sewage effluent and untreated industrial effluent,” he explained.

(click here to continue reading BBC News – US rice imports ‘contain harmful levels of lead’.)

So, when the FDA gets around to testing this, and confirming it, will the news make US headlines? Will the Agribusinesses that control our food supplies allow the FDA to do anything about it? Or will it fade into the background like the news that there is large amounts of arsenic in rice, and perchlorate in our lettuce, and yadda yadda. The Rapture is coming, yo.

Two people died in China of the so-called bird flu, now that is a sensationalistic headline the US media can promote. Toxic food? Not so much.

Written by Seth Anderson

April 11th, 2013 at 6:48 am

Posted in Food and Drink,health

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Still President Bush Still wants to Kill Us All

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Still President Bush still wants to kill us all using his proxies in the EPA to gut any and all regulatory restrictions on polluting. Rebecca Clarren has written a compelling overview of the problem in Salon.

the story of the hundreds of sick people who live near the former Kelly Air Force Base illuminates an entirely new manner in which the Bush administration has diluted science and put public health at risk. This year, largely in obeisance to the Pentagon, the nation’s biggest polluter, the White House diminished a little-known but critical process at the Environmental Protection Agency for assessing toxic chemicals that impacts thousands of Americans.

As a coalition of more than 40 national and local environmental organizations put it in a letter to EPA administrators [4 page PDF] this past April: “EPA, under pressure from the Bush White House, has given the foxes the keys to the environmental protection henhouse.”

[From Environmental Protection Agency The Stalin Era Salon ]

Mechanics at the former Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio used a toxic chemical called tetrachloroethylene (or PCE for short) to degrease parts on the various airplanes serviced at the base. The chemical was discarded haphazardly, and seeped into the ground and water everywhere.

Although it has conducted limited testing, the EPA acknowledges that it’s possible for PCE vapor to rise from groundwater into people’s living rooms and kitchens. Yet it says the Alvarados and their neighbors have nothing to fear. Based on EPA air quality tests inside five area homes, the nation’s environmental guardian claims that it’s safe for residents to live above the plume for the next 40 to 100 years, or the amount of time it will take for the chemicals to naturally dissipate.

The fact is, EPA scientists haven’t completed an updated scientific assessment of PCE, including its health risks, for a decade. Worse, a comprehensive review of the carcinogenic chemical may never be coming. Anti-regulatory crusaders inside the Bush White House have peopled the EPA with top officials apparently more concerned with limiting government spending than public health. According to critics within and outside the EPA, the agency has stifled independent research and compromised scientific assessments of all manner of toxins and carcinogens that Americans breathe, drink and touch.

“It feels like Stalin-era Russia, like the administration set themselves up to decide what’s allowable science and what isn’t,” says a high-ranking staff scientist at the EPA, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Until the recent economic crash, this has been such an anti-regulatory administration. One of the ways to undermine regulations is to undermine the science behind them. It’s absolutely shocking what’s going on.”

Public health officials say this attempt to derail the scientific evaluation of toxins is one of the most damning legacies of the Bush administration. In late September, the Government Accountability Office issued a scathing critique of the EPA’s new toxic-assessment procedures. It concluded that the secretive procedures compromise scientific credibility and sacrifice the public’s trust in government. Despite such hefty criticism, public officials fear that because the new procedures have been instituted at the EPA so far below the public radar, their harmful impact will survive long after Bush leaves office. It will take a bold and expedient move by Barack Obama or the next Congress to curtail the influence of the Pentagon and other government agencies on the EPA.

There is also the national scourge of perchlorate, an ingredient of rocket fuel that has been found in the water supply of most states.

Since the early 1990s, the EPA has been conducting a toxic assessment of perchlorate, a major component in rocket fuel, used by the military and its contractors in bases throughout the country.

The chemical is incredibly widespread. It shows up in the groundwater of 35 states from New England to California; it has contaminated 153 public water systems in 26 states. Between 17 million and 40 million Americans are exposed to perchlorate at a level many scientists consider unsafe. According to a 2006 CDC study, 36 percent of American women are iodine deficient, putting them at risk for perchlorate-related thyroid problems. Due in part to perchlorate-contaminated irrigation water, most Americans who eat lettuce in the winter ingest the chemical. It has also appeared in melons, spinach and milk, according to 2005 and 2006 studies by the Food and Drug Administration.

A 2002 IRIS assessment led the EPA to call for a safe exposure dose of one part per billion — roughly the equivalent of a drop of water in a home swimming pool. That finding was expected to propel a stringent cleanup policy, one that could cost the Department of Defense billions of dollars.

That did not happen because the Pentagon has an ally in the EPA, an ally that decided that the budget of the Department of Defense was much more important than the health and safety of the nation.

In 2005, the EPA distributed a proposal to revise the chemical assessment process; officials at the Office of Management and Budget sat down with the IRIS blueprint and pulled out a red pen.

The plan that emerged calls for expanding the role of other federal agencies in determining which chemicals are assessed each year. It allows agencies like the Pentagon, Department of Energy and NASA to identify “mission critical” chemicals to the agency’s operations.

Significantly, the new process affords OMB more oversight and involvement in what critics say should be a purely scientific assessment. Now OMB and other non-health agencies have three additional opportunities to comment. Such comments are off-limits to public scrutiny and not available to congressional review unless subpoenaed. If OMB doesn’t agree with certain scientific findings, it can effectively block EPA from moving forward with the assessment.

Obama’s administration could reverse this crap, if they wanted. The question is, do they want to?

With a flick of a pen, Obama could reinstate the old IRIS process. Whether this will happen remains to be seen. His transition office didn’t return calls and e-mails asking if it would be likely to reverse the Bush administration changes to the IRIS process.

“If the Obama administration is serious about protecting poisoned communities, fixing the IRIS program is the place to start,” says Jennifer Sass, a toxicologist at Natural Resources Defense Council. “This should be the top priority at EPA. It’s really fundamental.”

Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., chairman of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the House Committee on Science and Technology, has taken matters into his own hands. In September, he introduced legislation that would make EPA solely responsible for the IRIS process. The agency would be barred from consulting with any agency, including OMB, that had a conflict of interest in the scientific review.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Seth Anderson

November 11th, 2008 at 12:13 pm

Economic Snake Oil

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Thomas Frank notes the inherent cynicism contained within Republican politicians. Republicans of the last few decades got elected by running against Big Gomnet, and once elected, proceed to gut, damage and otherwise destroy the mechanisms of the very bureaucracy they were supposed to be in charge of. Hurricane Katrina, the Iraq War, the current fiscal mess, these are all direct results of electing anti-government Republicans.

now we are supposed to vote for more conservative Republicans because we learned from the last bunch of conservative Republicans that government just doesn’t work.

That is the advice of Sarah Palin, Republican vice-presidential nominee, in last week’s debate with her Democratic counterpart, discussing the dread prospect of universal health care: “Unless you’re pleased with the way the federal government has been running anything lately, I don’t think that it’s going to be real pleasing for Americans to consider health care being taken over by the feds.”

Conservative misrule, prompted by conservative disdain for government, proves that government cannot be trusted — and that the only answer is to elect another round of government-denouncing conservatives.

“Cynicism” seems too small a word for this circular kind of political fraud. One reaches instead for images of grosser malevolence. It’s like suggesting that the best way to recover from pneumonia is to stand in the rain for three hours. It’s like arguing that the way to solve nuclear proliferation is by handing out weapons-grade plutonium to everyone who asks for it.

[From The GOP Peddles Economic Snake Oil – WSJ.com]

Snake oil, in other words, pure malevolent snake oil, containing mercury, BPA, perchlorate, and who knows what else.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 8th, 2008 at 10:04 pm

EPA hates Americans

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The Bush cronies in the EPA want to kill and maim American citizens, presumedly to bring on The Rapture. Their latest scheme to damage public health: ignore perchlorate in the nation’s drinking water because cleaning it up would cost the Pentagon too much money. The Pentagon has much more important tasks to accomplish with its trillion dollar budget: like killing people in other countries.

The Environmental Protection Agency has decided there’s no need to rid drinking water of a toxic rocket fuel ingredient that has fouled public water supplies around the country.
EPA reached the conclusion in a draft regulatory document not yet made public…

The ingredient, perchlorate, has been found in at least 395 sites in 35 states at levels high enough to interfere with thyroid function and pose developmental health risks, particularly for babies and fetuses, according to some scientists.

The EPA document says that mandating a clean-up level for perchlorate would not result in a “meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction for persons served by public-water systems.”

[From EPA won’t limit rocket fuel in U.S. drinking water – USATODAY.com]

I like to eat paste

The EPA chooses to ignore common sense, and the criticism of non-Bushies like Barbara Boxer:

“This is a widespread contamination problem, and to see the Bush EPA just walk away is shocking,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who chairs the Senate’s environment committee.

Lenny Siegel, director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight in Mountain View, Calif., added: “This is an unconscionable decision not based upon science or law but on concern that a more stringent standard could cost the government significantly.”

The Defense Department used perchlorate for decades in testing missiles and rockets, and most perchlorate contamination is the result of defense and aerospace activities, congressional investigators said last year.

The Pentagon could face liability if EPA set a national drinking water standard that forced water agencies around the country to undertake costly clean-up efforts. Defense officials have spent years questioning EPA’s conclusions about the risks posed by perchlorate.

Written by swanksalot

September 23rd, 2008 at 10:45 am

Posted in environment

Tagged with , , ,