EPA-approved fuel ingredient raises cancer risk for all exposed

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fuel-ingredient(NaturalHealth365)  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently approved an ingredient for boat fuel derived from plastic.  At face value, this might sound beneficial since using plastic-based fuels instead of petroleum-based fuels is a so-called “climate-friendly” alternative means of producing energy … at least, that’s what the EPA and others claim.

The problem?  Even the EPA itself acknowledges that long-term exposure to this specific compound will significantly elevate the risk of cancer to virtually everyone who will end up being exposed to it.

Government documents reveal SHOCKING cancer risk of new compound approved for boat fuel – yet manufacturer given the green light to start production

Under federal law, the EPA has to conduct safety assessments of new chemicals before manufacturers are permitted to release these chemicals to the market.  Any findings of unreasonable safety concerns to human health or the environment would (or at least should) prevent the EPA from being able to approve the chemical – or at least the very least, not without enforcing certain remedies or protocols on the manufacturers to mitigate any potential risks.

Critics argue, however, that this precedent seems not to have been upheld in the EPA’s recent “streamlined” decision to allow Chevron, the American multinational energy corporation, to create its new boat fuel ingredient in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

As of August 7, 2023, the EPA claims that Chevron has not officially begun producing this ingredient.

“Though the substance can poison the air and contaminate water,” Children’s Health Defense writes in an article discussing the jaw-dropping move, “EPA officials mandated no remedies other than requiring workers to wear gloves, records show.”

How worried should these Chevron employees be about working with this new plastic-based carcinogenic compound?  And how worried should the surrounding communities and the American public be about environmental exposure to this compound in everyday life?  To put things in perspective, let’s take a look at the EPA’s risk assessment of the product.

According to Children’s Health Defense, the EPA confirmed a set of calculations that estimated a risk level of 1.3 in 1.  In layperson terms, this basically means that everyone exposed to the chemical over the course of their lifetime – namely, by breathing in air that has been polluted by boat engines burning fuel – would be expected to develop cancer.

In comparison, this risk level is as much as a million times higher than what the EPA usually considers “acceptable” for other new chemicals – and is even six times higher than the risk of lung cancer due to lifelong smoking.

Elected officials voicing their concerns over these “deeply concerning” moves from EPA

Former EPA scientists, industry experts, and American politicians have expressed their shock and doubt over this “streamlined” decision from the EPA.  As one example, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley wrote a letter to EPA administrator Michael Regan on April 5, 2023, expressing his concerns about the agency’s questionable approvals of plastic-based fuels, calling them “especially troubling.”

“So-called ‘chemical recycling,'” Sen. Merkley writes, “has been touted by companies like Chevron as a way to reduce plastic waste through repurposing it but turning plastic waste into fuel increases greenhouse gas emissions, subsidizes the petrochemical industry, and harms frontline communities located near these facilities.”

In his letter, Sen. Merkley goes on to ask the EPA over a dozen questions (it is unclear if the EPA has answered any of these questions by the requested April 30 deadline).  He notes, for example, that the Mississippi Chevron facility has actually been cited in three separate events by the EPA in less than a decade for various violations, including a violation of the Clean Air Act that aims to prevent accidental releases of hazardous chemicals.

Given these facts, Senator Merkley asks, “Why did the EPA streamline approval of a new chemical at a facility with this troubling enforcement history?  Has the EPA imposed any historical compliance requirements or other restrictions on which facilities or companies can qualify for the streamlined review process?”

Other hard-hitting questions from the senator include:

  • “Is it true that the EPA streamlined the review of a premanufacture notice for production of a chemical for use as a fuel in Pascagoula, a city in Mississippi, that could emit air pollution so toxic that 1 in 4 people exposed to it over a lifetime could get cancer?  If so, how did the EPA justify streamlining that approval?  How many times has the EPA ever approved exposure levels with this level of toxicity?”
  • “How does the EPA plan to monitor production of these new chemicals over time to ensure environmental safety and public health?  How often will the EPA reassess the new chemicals’ effects on the environment and public health, including on any surrounding communities?”
  • What, if any, steps are the EPA taking to reduce the risk from air pollution for frontline communities in communities that will be affected by new chemicals approved under the program, including those in Pascagoula?  To what extent has the EPA considered potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations in its assessments under the bio-based fuels program?

Time will tell if the government and the major manufacturers it supports will at all be held accountable.

Sources for this article include:

Childrenshealthdefense.org
Documentcloud.org
EPA.gov
Merkley.senate.gov

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