"Today is a moment we have been fighting for for nearly 45 years," said Sen. Ed Markey. "We can see a future where we will no longer be manufacturing, processing, and distributing a chemical known to be deadly."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday proposed to prohibit all uses of the industrial solvent trichloroethylene , a move cheered by environmental and public health defenders, as well as progressive politicians who support banning the widely used neurotoxin.
The EPA describes trichloroethylene (TCE) as "an extremely toxic chemical known to cause serious health risks including cancer, neurotoxicity, and reproductive toxicity" that is "used in cleaning and furniture care products, degreasers, brake cleaners, and tire repair sealants."
The agency's proposed ban under the Toxic Substances Control Act "would protect people from these health risks by banning the manufacture, processing, and distribution of TCE" for nearly all uses. The chemical and battery industries have fought against prohibition.
"The science is loud and clear," EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Assistant Administrator Michal Freedhoff said at a Monday press conference announcing the proposed ban. "This chemical is so dangerous, even in small amounts, that we don't think any uses can safely continue."
"For far too long, TCE has left a toxic legacy in communities across America," Freedhoff continued. "Today, EPA is taking a major step to protect people from exposure to this cancer-causing chemical. Today's proposal to end these unsafe, unrestricted uses of TCE will prevent future contamination to land and drinking water and deliver the chemical safety protections this nation deserves."
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) was joined at a Monday press conference in Woburn, Massachusetts by activist Anne Anderson, whose 12-year-old son Jimmy died of acute lymphocytic leukemia in 1981. Markey hailed Anderson's work while remembering "all those kids who didn't stand a chance against toxic chemical pollution."
"Today is a moment we have been fighting for for nearly 45 years—the banning of TCE," he said. "We can see a future where we will no longer be manufacturing, processing, and distributing a chemical known to be deadly."
"We will no longer be exposing American families, communities, and workers to a toxic chemical legacy that leaves questions, cancer, and catastrophe in its wake," the senator added.
Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz, a senior attorney at the environmental legal advocacy group Earthjustice , said in a statement that the "EPA followed the science, listened to impacted communities, and proposed one of the strongest chemical regulations in recent history."
"Some chemicals are simply too harmful to remain on the market," he added. "TCE—which causes cancer, fetal heart defects, Parkinson's disease, and other devastating effects—is one of them."
Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), said that the "EPA is once again putting the health of workers and consumers first."
"EWG applauds this move to ban most uses of TCE," Faber added.
If approved, the ban would begin in one year for consumer products and most commercial uses, while implementing "stringent worker protections on the limited remaining commercial and industrial uses that would be phased down over a longer period."
The EPA noted that the proposal advances U.S. President Joe Biden's
Cancer Breakthroughs 2020
—also known as the Cancer Moonshot—a sweeping effort to develop vaccine-based immunotherapies against an affliction that, according to the World Health Organization, kills nearly 10 million people around the world each year,
the World Health Organization.
"Today, EPA is taking a vital step in our efforts to advance President Biden's Cancer Moonshot and protect people from cancer and other serious health risks, " EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe said in a statement . "The science is loud and clear on TCE. It is a dangerous toxic chemical and proposing to ban it will protect families, workers, and communities."