Monday, January 27, 2020
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Envt. is killing kids in an Ind. Trump county

Many children and teenagers have been stricken with cancer in Johnson County, Indiana, which voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, and now residents are demanding the president take steps that would directly contradict one of his major goals: the rollback of environmental regulations, the New York Times reports.

Kids have died from glioblastoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, and especially acute lymphocytic leukemia. Researchers stress, however, that a link between trichloroethylene (TCE), a toxin commonly used by dry cleaners that has been discovered at high levels in Johnson County, and childhood cancer hasn’t been proven by research. But places like this provide strong correlative evidence.

“Trump’s a businessman. There are great things he can do for our country. But he’s used to building high rises for money,” the paper quoted Stacie Davidson as saying. She voted for Mr Trump and co-founded a parents’ group representing dozens of concerned parents that called for a federal investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General (the same office that oversaw the water crisis in Flint, Michgan). “He’s not as environmentally savvy. Our hope is that he surrounds himself with people who are more knowledgeable.”

Some of those “more knowledgeable” people might be Maryland officials who last week decided not to allow a pipeline that would carry fracked natural gas through three miles of Maryland, after they heard years of opposition to the project from environmentalists. The unanimous vote by the Board of Public Works came after more than 60 members of the General Assembly wrote a letter urging the board to deny a request from Columbia Gas to construct a distribution line under the Western Maryland Rail Trail.

The parents’ group in Indiana accuses the EPA of “serious mismanagement” and “significant delays” at a site where chemicals buried underground (and under people’s houses) have started to evaporate and pollute the air in the houses. The delays have occurred, the group says, even after the dangers of the site became apparent this summer.

“We are done begging,” the Times quoted Kari Rhinehart, the mother of Emma Grace Findley, a 13-year-old swimmer who developed brain cancer and died in 2014. “We are demanding the EPA finish what it started and place these restrictions on TCE and other dangerous toxins.”

TCE is a colorless fluid with a subtle, sweet odor used by as many as four-fifths of the nation’s 65,000 dry cleaners, as well as about 2,200 factories and other facilities. The dry cleaning industry would like the president’s easing of regulations to move forward, since industry representatives say alternatives might damage clothes.

But the EPA has said TCE is “carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure.” TCE levels at one site in Franklin, the county seat, were found to be more than 250 times the state limits.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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