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EPA targets 17 toxics.

EPA targets 17 toxics

The EPA made an unprecedented pledge last fall: to systematically target low-cost strategies for solving the nation's worst unresolved pollution problems (SN: 11/3/90, p.283). Last week, the agency fired off one of the first salvos in that campaign. Letters to the largest industrial polluters requested voluntary cuts in U.S. emissions of the 17 chemicals identified by EPA as posing the greatest threats to human health.

Participating firms must agree to cut by one-third all industrial releases or transfers (to landfills, for instance) of these toxic chemicals by next year, and to limit releases of these substances to no more than half of 1988 levels within another three years. In his letter to some 600 chief executive officers, EPA Administrator William K. Reilly promised to assist their firms in identifying cost-effective ways to limit pollution. He noted that a pilot program involving nine of the nation's largest toxic polluters resulted in a voluntary commitment to collectively reduce their emissions 83 percent by 1993.

Under Clean Air Act amendments passed last fall (SN: 11/3/90, p.277), EPA will designate technologies companies must use to limit pollution from 189 toxic substances, including those on the new priority list. Only companies willing to enter federally enforceable agreements to cut these emissions by at least 90 percent will qualify for waivers of up to six years from the new Clean Air Act rules. However, Reilly notes, some firms may find the new, voluntary program a cost-effective way to avoid the need for future controls.

Focusing on toxicity and exposure potential, EPA has designated the following chemicals as toxic enemies No. 1 through 17: benzene cadmium and its compounds carbon tetrachloride chloroform chromium and its compounds cyanides dichloromethane lead and its compounds mercury and its compounds methyl ethyl ketone methyl isobutyl ketone nickel and its compounds tetrachloroethylene toluene 1,1,1-trichloroethane trichloroethylene and xylene(s).
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Title Annotation:Environmental Protection Agency
Publication:Science News
Date:Feb 16, 1991
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