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EPA begins investigation process that could ban dangerous chemical: 'That accident was a chilling warning'

"We cannot continue to put our children at risk."

"We cannot continue to put our children at risk."

Photo Credit: iStock

In a huge step toward creating a healthier Earth, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will prioritize the investigation of a commonly used flammable toxic chemical: vinyl chloride.

Vinyl chloride, a type of colorless gas, is used in the production of polyvinyl chloride, a hard plastic resin that makes up about 12% of the world's plastic products and was recognized as a human carcinogen as far back as the 1970s, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer

According to Inside Climate News, the decision is largely thanks to environmental groups that advocated for a ban on vinyl chloride by visiting EPA offices and collecting thousands of petition signatures.

"We are pleased that EPA has taken the first step in a comprehensive scientific review, and we are hopeful that it concludes with the decision to ban vinyl chloride because there is more than enough science on this chemical to warrant a ban," said Judith Enck, a former EPA regional administrator and the president of Beyond Plastics

The timely decision follows a crash in East Palestine, Ohio, where a train carrying vinyl chloride derailed and caught fire, raising concerns about harmful pollution in the area. 

Inhaling the smoke and toxic fumes from the train crash seemed to create issues for the town's residents, who later reported headaches, nausea, nosebleeds, and coughing among their symptoms, per Inside Climate News.

Thankfully, actions from the EPA, corporations, and individuals in advocacy groups create a collective effort toward a safer, more sustainable future for people and the planet. 

Plastic takes hundreds and hundreds of years to decompose and releases chemicals that can cause harm to humans and wildlife, but we can reduce plastic waste by bringing awareness to the dangers created by the industry and cutting down on single-use products.

Companies such as Apple, IKEA, Nike, and others have already committed to getting rid of PVC in their products, per advocacy group Toxic-Free Future, aligning with the U.S. Plastics Pact's goal to eliminate problematic materials by 2025.

"If you live, work or attend school along the rail line, you and your loved ones are at risk for the same fate as East Palestine, Ohio,"Jess Conard, an advocate for Beyond Plastics, told Inside Climate News. "We cannot continue to put our children at risk. It is time to ban vinyl chloride."

"That accident was a chilling warning that we must act now to ban petrochemicals like vinyl chloride and keep communities safe from known carcinogens," former EPA regional administrator and Beyond Petrochemicals leader Heather McTeer Toney told CBS News.

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