The Environmental Protection Agency program that rates the toxicity of chemicals used in the US, and around the world, has been manipulated in favor of industry and the military under the Bush administration, Rebecca Claren reports in Salon. Budget-cutting directives from the White House have allowed outside organizations, including the Pentagon, to stall or downgrade assessments, potentially endangering thousands of people.
The Integrated Risk Information System is essentially the clearinghouse for chemical assessment, and directs government response to contamination. If a toxin is labeled less harmful, less action is necessary, and money is saved. At least two chemicals used by the military have been deemed much safer than they would have been had the EPA acted alone. It’s “like industry selecting its own cleanup standards,” one scientist said.