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Set markets free!

Quote:The Environmental Protection Agency just took a dramatic step toward deregulating some major sources of toxic air pollution, which could have huge implications for public healthUnder Section 112 of the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to regulate facilities that emit one or more of 189 hazardous air toxics like benzene, dioxin, and lead that cause health problems such as cancer and birth defects.

A facility like a chemical plant or a factory is classified as “major” by the Clear Air Act if it has the potential to emit more than 10 tons of an individual toxic chemical or 25 tons of a combination of toxics into the air per year. Those that cross this line have to deploy the “maximum achievable control technology” (MACT) to reduce pollution as much as possible with the best hardware that’s available.

Pollution sources that are regulated under this major sources standard are subject to these regulations indefinitely. But the new EPA guidance, detailed in a memo published Thursday, ends the “once in, always in” policy based on a “plain language reading” of the Clean Air Act. That means that once a pollution source brought its air emissions below the threshold for a major source, it would be held to the standard for an “area source,” or anything that isn’t a “major source,” instead.
The EPA is lifting strict limits on toxic air pollution - Vox

And the broader picture:

Quote:Defunding departments, disbanding the teams and dismissing the experts they rely on, shutting down research programmes, maligning the civil servants who remain in post, the self-hating state is ripping down the very apparatus of government. At the same time, it is destroying public protections that defend us from disaster.

A series of studies published in the past few months has started to explore the wider impact of pollutants. One, published in the British Medical Journal, suggests that the exposure of unborn children to air pollution in cities is causing “something approaching a public health catastrophe”. Pollution in the womb is now linked to low birth weight, disruption of the baby’s lung and brain development, and a series of debilitating and fatal diseases in later life.

Another report, published in the Lancet, suggests that three times as many deaths are caused by pollution as by Aids, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Pollution, the authors note, now “threatens the continuing survival of human societies”. A collection of articles in the journal PLOS Biology reveals that there is no reliable safety data on most of the 85,000 synthetic chemicals to which we may be exposed. While hundreds of these chemicals “contaminate the blood and urine of nearly every person tested”, and the volume of materials containing them rises every year, we have no idea what the likely impacts may be, either singly or in combination.

As if in response to such findings, the Trump government has systematically destroyed the integrity of the Environmental Protection Agencyripped up the Clean Power Planvitiated environmental standards for motor vehiclesreversed the ban on chlorpyrifos (a pesticide now linked to the impairment of cognitive and behavioural function in children), and rescinded a remarkable list of similar public protections.
Is this the end of civilisation? We could take a different path | George Monbiot | Opinion | The Guardian
And then there is this:

Quote:Conservatives who are working to undo Obama-era Wall Street reforms do have one regulation they’d like to keep in place: high capital requirements for financial institutions, so that big banks can pay for their own losses if they run into trouble instead of needing a government bailout. The House Republicans’ Financial CHOICE Act follows this model, gutting scores of rules created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law in favor of a simple capital buffer. 

That legislation, which passed the House along party lines but is not expected to pass the Senate, would be a disaster: Its buffer is too low, and there’s no mechanism to enforce it. But conservatives have been interested for years in regulating capital. Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown carried bipartisan legislation through two Congresses calling for higher capital requirements. Conservative economistscentral bankers and academics all share this view.

But Randal Quarles, the most important regulatory official at the Federal Reserve, announced last week that reducing capital requirements is a top priority—and Fed Chair nominee Jerome Powell supports the idea. So Donald Trump’s two biggest appointments to the central bank not only agree on dismantling the relatively more stringent regulatory apparatus in place since the Great Recession, but are taking the one policy conservatives have long supported in financial regulation and targeting it for degradation.
Trump’s Regulators Want to Kill a Key Financial Rule That Even Republicans Support | New Republic
Nothing to regulate here either..

Quote:Chemicals used to make non-stick pots and pans, stain-resistant carpets, and food packaging may contribute to high levels of obesity by disrupting the body’s ability to burn calories, scientists say. Researchers at Harvard University examined the effects of compounds called perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), which have already raised concerns among some health experts after animal experiments and other studies linked them to cancer, high cholesterol and immune problems.
Chemicals in packaging, carpets and non-stick pans 'may contribute to obesity' | Science | The Guardian

Quote:Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the human hormone system, and can be found in food containers, plastics, furniture, toys, carpeting and cosmetics. The new series of reports by 18 of the world’s foremost experts on endocrine science pegs the health costs of exposure to them at between €157bn-€270bn (£113bn-£195bn), or at least 1.23% of the continent’s GDP. “The shocking thing is that the major component of that cost is related to the loss of brain function in the next generation,” one of the report’s authors, Professor Philippe Grandjean of Harvard University, told the Guardian.
Health costs of hormone disrupting chemicals over €150bn a year in Europe, says study | Environment | The Guardian
Quote:Household cleaners, paints and perfumes have become substantial sources of urban air pollution as strict controls on vehicles have reduced road traffic emissions, scientists say. Researchers in the US looked at levels of synthetic “volatile organic compounds”, or VOCs, in roadside air in Los Angeles and found that as much came from industrial and household products refined from petroleum as from vehicle exhaust pipes.

The compounds are an important contributor to air pollution because when they waft into the atmosphere, they react with other chemicals to produce harmful ozone or fine particulate matter known as PM2.5. Ground level ozone can trigger breathing problems by making the airways constrict, while fine airborne particles drive heart and lung disease

In Britain and the rest of Europe, air pollution is more affected by emissions from diesel vehicles than in the US, but independent scientists said the latest work still highlighted an important and poorly understood source of pollution that is currently unregulated.
Cleaning products a big source of urban air pollution, say scientists | Environment | The Guardian
Quote:Shocking hygiene failings have been discovered in some of the US’s biggest meat plants, as a new analysis reveals that as many as 15% (one in seven) of the US population suffers from foodborne illnesses annually. A joint investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) and the Guardian found that hygiene incidents are at numbers that experts described as “deeply worrying”. 

US campaigners are calling once again for the closure of a legal loophole that allows meat with salmonella to be sold in the human supply chain, and also warn about the industry’s push to speed up production in the country’s meat plants. And UK campaigners warn that the UK could be flooded with “dirty meat” if a US trade deal is signed post-Brexit.
'Dirty meat': Shocking hygiene failings discovered in US pig and chicken plants | Animals farmed | The Guardian
Quote:Decades’ worth of research proves that chemicals used to make bacon do cause cancer. So how did the meat industry convince us it was safe? The source of the story was an announcement from the World Health Organization that “processed meats” were now classified as a group 1 carcinogen, meaning scientists were certain that there was “sufficient” evidence that they caused cancer, particularly colon cancer. The warning applied not just to British bacon but to Italian salami, Spanish chorizo, German bratwurst and myriad other foods.

Health scares are ten-a-penny, but this one was very hard to ignore. The WHO announcement came on advice from 22 cancer experts from 10 countries, who reviewed more than 400 studies on processed meat covering epidemiological data from hundreds of thousands of people

The real scandal of bacon, however, is that it didn’t have to be anything like so damaging to our health. The part of the story we haven’t been told – including by the WHO – is that there were always other ways to manufacture these products that would make them significantly less carcinogenic. The fact that this is so little known is tribute to the power of the meat industry, which has for the past 40 years been engaged in a campaign of cover-ups and misdirection to rival the dirty tricks of Big Tobacco

The pinkness of bacon – or cooked ham, or salami – is a sign that it has been treated with chemicals, more specifically with nitrates and nitrites. It is the use of these chemicals that is widely believed to be the reason why “processed meat” is much more carcinogenic than unprocessed meat

“Pure insane crazy madness” is how Coudray described the continuing use of nitrates and nitrites in processed meats, in an email to me. The madness, in his view, is that it is possible to make bacon and ham in ways that would be less carcinogenic. The most basic way to cure any meat is to salt it – either with a dry salt rub or a wet brine – and to wait for time to do the rest. Coudray notes that ham and bacon manufacturers claim this old-fashioned way of curing isn’t safe. But the real reason they reject it is cost: it takes much longer for processed meats to develop their flavour this way, which cuts into profits.

In 1993, Parma ham producers in Italy made a collective decision to remove nitrates from their products and revert to using only salt, as in the old days. For the past 25 years, no nitrates or nitrites have been used in any Prosciutto di Parma. Even without nitrate or nitrite, the Parma ham stays a deep rosy-pink colour. We now know that the colour in Parma ham is totally harmless, a result of the enzyme reactions during the ham’s 18-month ageing process.
Yes, bacon really is killing us | News | The Guardian
Yes, we don't need to fight obesity, one of the biggest public health problems facing the world today..

Quote:Pretty much every country in the world now has an obesity crisis. But no one’s really figured out what to do about it. One of the most avant-garde obesity policy experiments is happening in Chile, where health officials are trying to revolutionize nutrition labeling. Instead of cramming percentages and numbers onto the back of food packages, the Chilean government now requires symbol-based warning labels on the front of food products that contain high levels of salt, sugar, calories, and saturated fat.

Canada, where 20 percent of adults have obesity, has taken notice. It’s now on the cusp of becoming the first high-income country to adopt a similar warning system. Meanwhile, Mexico, which has called overweight, obesity, and diabetes public health emergencies, is also considering following Chile’s lead. Welcome to the opaque — and somewhat surprising — intersection of obesity and the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation.

According to a leaked document shared with Vox, US trade representatives are seeking to override national food labeling policies in Mexico, Canada — as well as in the US — through the NAFTA renegotiation. Specifically, the US is proposing a provision about packaged food and non-alcoholic beverages that suggests that countries involved in the trade deal should not adopt front-of-package symbol warnings that “inappropriately denotes that a hazard exists from consumption of the food or non-alcoholic beverages.” The New York Times first reported on the provision Tuesday
Canada wants clearer warnings on junk food. The US is using NAFTA to stop them. - Vox
Deregulation isn't the job creator many on the right believe:

Quote:The Trump administration’s deregulatory zeal is driven not only by a supposed disdain for the governmental elite but by a business mythology that regulations place too great a financial burden on companies and, thus, kill job creation. As Alena Semuels ably explains at The Atlantic, the old Republican standby term “job-killing regulations” is not borne out by evidence:

Quote:[T]he idea that regulations stunt job growth more broadly is not supported by research. Many of the academic studies that have explored the question find that regulations don’t decrease jobs in the overall economy. They sometimes reduce jobs in certain sectors, but they create new jobs in others. A factory that makes lead additives for gasoline might be shut down because regulations have banned lead additives. But new jobs will then be created at a factory that makes catalytic converters, which are emissions-control devices for cars. Some workers, then, benefit from regulation, while others lose. That doesn’t mean that the losses aren’t real and painful for the people who held those jobs, but the overall picture is not one that can be accurately characterized by the phrase “job-killing.”
Donald Trump: Trickle Downer of the Week
And this doesn't require regulation either..

Quote:A young sperm whale, the largest toothed predator on Earth and an endangered species, washed up on the beach in southeastern Spain in February. Wanting to know what killed it, scientists brought the cetacean’s 13,000-pound body to a lab for a necropsy. They sliced into its blubber, and were shocked at what they discovered: 64 pounds of plastic throughout the stomach and intestines. This trash had caused the severe infection that took the whale’s life

Scientists across the globe are increasingly finding wildlife that has been killed after ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic. Ninety percent of sea birds, for example, have been found to have plastic in their bellies. And the problem is only getting worse: The estimated 19 billion pounds of plastic that ends up in the ocean every year is expected to double by 2025. These plastics will not only kill more animals; they’ll decimate coral reefs, and damage human health as microplastics enter the food chain. They’ll create more and bigger dead zones where nothing can live, harm biodiversity, and change ecosystems. There will likely be additional, unknown impacts; researchers have only been studying ocean plastics for less than two decades..
The Global Crisis of Plastic Pollution | The New Republic

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