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Toxics

EPA AGREES TO EXAMINE HEALTH RISKS OF NATURALLY OCCURRING ASBESTOS

EPA has agreed to examine the human health effects of naturally occurring asbestos after agency sampling in California revealed elevated exposure levels, even though the agency currently lacks authority to regulate non-occupational exposures to the substance.

The decision comes as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) won passage of an amendment to the Senate's controversial asbestos trust fund legislation requiring EPA action on the issue.

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EPA CLAIMS LIMITED POWERS TO CONTROL LARGEST SOURCE OF DIOXIN

A new draft EPA report on dioxin emissions finds that backyard trash burning is now the largest source of the pollutant, which may limit the agency's ability to further reduce dioxin emissions because EPA says it lacks regulatory authority over the burning.

But activists say the draft report, which shows dramatic reductions in U.S. dioxin emissions over the last decade, is based on limited data that ignores community-led efforts to shut down dioxin-emitting facilities and overstates the success of regulatory policies.

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EPA DOWNPLAYS RISKS OF SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN TRI MERCURY RELEASES

EPA officials are downplaying the impact of a near doubling of total reported mercury releases to the environment between 2000 and 2003, saying they are due in part to errors in reports from two gold mines in Nevada, which will be corrected later this year.

Agency officials say mercury released from the mines occurs in a form that poses less risk to human health and the environment, while mercury emissions from power plants and other sources, which pose the most significant risks to humans, are declining.

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RULING OPENS DOOR TO NEW TRI EXEMPTIONS FOR OZONE-FORMING CHEMICALS

A federal appellate ruling backing a chemical industry petition to exempt a widely used solvent from reporting under EPA's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) could help industry seek similar exemptions for a host of other chemicals the agency has regulated because they become toxic after release.

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IDAHO ADMINISTRATION PRESSES CAL/EPA TO STOP ACRYLAMIDE REGULATIONS

The governor of Idaho and his top officials are pressing Cal/EPA and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to halt any proposed Proposition 65 regulation of the food chemical acrylamide, adding to an already massive amount of lobbying by dozens of major industry organizations and companies. Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne (R) visited Schwarzenegger this week, and several of his cabinet secretaries testified at a health hazard office workshop that Prop.

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Ruling Opens Door To Toxic Reporting Exemptions For Other Solvents

A federal appellate ruling backing a chemical industry petition to exempt a widely used solvent from reporting under EPA's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) could help industry seek similar exemptions for a host of other chemicals the agency has regulated because they pose an indirect public health threat by interacting in the environment.

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House Panel Seeks Scientific Study Of PCB Cleanups At 'Mega Sites'

The House Appropriations Committee has ordered EPA and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to again review the effectiveness of dredging sediments contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), with the latest report focusing on dredging at Superfund "mega-sites."

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EPA To Correct Data On Mercury Releases In Latest TRI Report

EPA officials are downplaying the impact of a near doubling of total reported mercury releases to the environment between 2000 and 2003, saying they are due in part to errors in reports from two gold mines in Nevada, which will be corrected later this year.

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Congress Passes War Funding That Includes Ban On EPA Pesticide Fees

An $82-billion war supplemental funding bill that is awaiting President Bush's signature includes a provision that would bar EPA from issuing a regulation to force companies to pay for the development of residue standards for pesticides used on fruit and vegetables. The legislative provision would scuttle a Bush Administration effort to collect the fees in part as a way to address the rising federal deficit.

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States Push Medical Criteria Laws As Backup To Federal Asbestos Fund

State lawmakers are proposing strict medial criteria to limit asbestos liability lawsuits out of frustration with the pace of Senate efforts to develop a compensation trust fund that is intended to also ease the legal burdens of plaintiffs claiming exposure to the cancer-causing contaminant.

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