Scientist criticizes EPA for failing to test cancer-causing chemicals

A scientist has slammed the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to test for dioxins, a cancer-causing chemical that is ‘undoubtedly’ in the environment of East Palestine, Ohio, following the February 6 controlled detonation that was conducted in response to the train derailment.

Stephen Lester, scientific director of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, told WKBN there is no doubt in his mind that dioxins were released during the controlled combustion of vinyl chloride in the east of Palestine last month.

The scientist said the EPA’s decision not to test the highly toxic chemical compound is a “lame” and “wrong excuse”.

US EPA Regional Administrator Debra Shore said the agency would not test for dioxins at this time.

“Dioxins are ubiquitous in the environment. They were here before the accident, they will be here after, and we don’t have basic information in this area to do a proper test. But, we’re talking to our toxicologist and looking into it,” Shore said.

Dioxins are highly toxic pollutants that can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, and damage to the immune system, WKBN noted.

“I think they’re hesitant to test because they know they’ll find it and they’ll be put in a place where they have to fix it,” Lester told the outlet, adding that dioxin exposure can lead to serious types of cancer. He added:

The level of dioxin that enters a body, a person, an animal, a cow, and which could lead to health problems is extraordinarily low. It doesn’t take much. I would be very concerned if I had a farm, especially if I was aware, as some people described in this meeting, that the dark cloud of fire had settled on their property.

Lester explained that dioxins can take decades to fully break down and dissolve, adding that they can settle on surfaces, plants, in water and in soil after release.

The EPA administrator reportedly responded to a letter from Senators JD Vance (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), appearing to try to downplay dioxins by suggesting they are also produced by “grilling in the court “.

“Our toxicologists take a look. Unfortunately, we don’t have any baseline information on the levels of dioxins that are also produced by wildfires, by backyard grilling, by a host of other things,” Shore said.

But Lester said he had “never heard anyone, any researcher, talk about barbecue” when he was talking about dioxins.

“It’s an infinitesimal concentration, if at all, because dioxins don’t just form because there’s combustion, you need a source of chlorine,” he said.

Lester added that the EPA should still be able to test dioxins to determine if the level in the environment puts residents at risk – even if there is no “baseline information” on the levels. of dioxins allegedly produced by other entities.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangeloand on Instagram.


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