EPA Celebrates 50 Years of Progress in Advancing Chemical Safety

March 2, 2020
Since 1970, EPA has improved awareness of the chemicals Americans are exposed to, put safeguards in place when needed, and spurred the development of safer, more environmentally-friendly chemical substitutes.

Lenexa, KS — As part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 50th anniversary commemoration, the agency is kicking off a month-long look at its progress in advancing chemical safety for a healthier, stronger future.

“Today, thanks in part to EPA’s extensive efforts over the past 50 years, we have greater awareness of the chemicals being used in our communities, we have put in place more safeguards than ever, and we have seen exposure to toxic pollution significantly decrease,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Alexandra Dapolito Dunn. “Together our efforts are better protecting our families, our environment, and our future.”

Since 1970, EPA has improved awareness of the chemicals Americans are exposed to, put safeguards in place when needed, and spurred the development of safer, more environmentally-friendly chemical substitutes. Notable accomplishments and milestones include:

•           Americans Gained the Right-To Know Americans now have greater awareness of the chemicals being used and released in their community thanks to EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program, which began in 1986. TRI data includes information on chemical releases and pollution prevention activities at 22,000 facilities nationwide. Since 1986, surface water discharges of TRI-reported chemicals from facilities have decreased from over 41 million pounds to under 12 million pounds, and air emissions have dropped from over 2 billion pounds to just over 300 million pounds.

•           Reduced Lead Exposure: Since 1976, the amount of lead in children’s blood has decreased by 95 percent as a result of multiple federal laws and regulations, including EPA’s historic Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992.

•           Recovery of the Bald Eagle: The nation’s bald eagle populations have recovered thanks to EPA’s landmark decision in 1972 to eliminate all uses of DDT in the United States, a pesticide that almost caused the bald eagle’s extinction.

Under the Trump Administration, EPA has worked to sustain this momentum toward a stronger, healthier future. For example:

•           As part of the Trump Administration’s Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts, in June 2019, EPA announced a stronger, more protective standard for lead dust in homes and child-occupied facilities across the country—the first update to these standards in nearly two decades.

•           EPA is taking aggressive action to implement the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act’s many improvements to chemical safety, including reviewing new chemicals or significant new uses of a chemical before they can enter the market. Since the law’s enactment, the agency has completed more than 2,600 of these reviews, ensuring modern and innovative chemicals get to market quickly and safely.

•           In 2019, the agency advanced public health protection by banning sales to consumers of methylene chloride in paint removers and strengthened the regulation of asbestos to close a dangerous loophole.

•           EPA’s pesticides program continues to protect public health and the environment while promoting a safe, abundant, affordable food supply. From 2017 to 2019, EPA registered over 60 new active ingredients and over 500 new uses of existing pesticides, providing growers with the tools they need to protect the country’s food supply.

For more on EPA’s 50th Anniversary and how the agency is advancing chemical safety, visit: www.epa.gov/50

Follow EPA’s 50th Anniversary celebration on social media using #EPAat50

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