The Cumulative Impacts Project

by jim on July 31, 2012

A major flaw in the official government risk assessment process that guides the awarding of new air pollution permits is the lack of accounting for the "cumulative impacts" and interactions in the human body of of multiple sources of pollution and the multiple chemicals in that pollution.

To take the example form the previous post – EPA and TCEQ will not consider whether garbage burning and the phthalate emissions it might cause will impose additional risks for diabetes on a typical Latino woman who's already exposed to a lot of phthalates, and already has a higher risk of diabetes than her white peers. Those agencies don't consider her background exposure to this class of chemicals, or her greater propensity to contract the disease.

Nor do they think how the phthalates interact with the benzene, or the toluene, or the dioxins, or the ozone, or anything else that's not mentioned in the very specific permit request a facility is seeking. With 80,00 chemicals on the market, and only a couple of dozen thoroughly studied for their possible health effects, we're all lab rats.

Now there's an organization and a website that's taking on this short-sighted approach to pollution control. It's called the Cumulative Impacts Project.  It was founded by the Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN) and the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE).
According to its website,

"The primary goal of the Cumulative Impacts Project is to collect the latest science, emerging best practices, analytical tools, and legal shifts that can reduce cumulative harm to our planet, our communities, and ourselves."

Check it out.

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