The tobacco industry tried to censor public health science 20 years ago — and Congress didn’t let them get away with it. The tobacco industry and its lobby proposed a law to change the kind of data that was used to prove a link between smoking and lung cancer by insisting that no confidential data be used. That’s not the way health science is done — and hasn’t been the way it is done for many decades.
Today, the Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with a proposal from ex-Administrator Scott Pruitt that puts this kind of life-saving science at risk. EPA is proposing to exclude studies that use private data when it is setting health standards. This would mean that some of the most important, large scale, and groundbreaking research on the health impacts of pollution would be deliberately ignored by the agency.
As the wise ones say: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. EPA has many ways of using the best possible health data on which to base its policies. There are already cross-checks built into the system. It ain’t broke.
So why does EPA want to censor public health science? To protect industry polluters: the manufacturers of toxic chemicals, the sources of toxic air pollution that makes our kids sick.
Even as I write to you, the chemical industry wants to reintroduce the pesticide chlorpyrifos into the market for home use, where it is now banned. It was banned because of the damage it causes to fetal brain development. If the chemical industry can get rid of these troubling studies — it can reopen the use of this pesticide for our homes. This is a travesty.
The same holds for air quality standards that are right now being reassessed. Get rid of the studies that have proven that particulate pollution harms hearts, lungs, and brains — and suddenly the polluter industry doesn’t have to clean up its act. As parents, we cannot stand by while these crucial scientific studies are put at risk. Join me in standing for science that protects our families.