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New research reveals an ‘alarming’ hazard Americans face almost daily: ‘Endangering worker and community safety’

The troubling trend is raising grave concerns.

The troubling trend is raising grave concerns.

Photo Credit: iStock

The idea of fires, explosions, and exposure to toxins from chemical spills on a daily basis may sound like something straight out of a disaster movie.

Unfortunately, new data published by the non-profit group Coming Clean shows that this has become a reality across the United States. 

What’s happening?

According to Coming Clean’s recent chemical incident tracking report, hazardous chemical incidents happened, on average, every 1.2 days from the beginning of 2021 through mid-October 2023, as The Guardian noted.

Coming Clean prepared the report with a network of environmental and economic justice organizations in the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters, calling its findings an “alarming frequency” of accidents. 

From leaks and spills to fires and explosions, the troubling trend in occurrences is raising concerns over how people are impacted by exposure to dangerous toxins.  

Most of these incidents have been linked to the dirty energy industry, including the production, transportation, and disposal of dirty energy sources like oil, gas, coal, and their by-products. 

Why are these chemical accidents concerning?

The frequency of hazardous chemical incidents poses a huge threat to public health and safety, with the report documenting 43 deaths, over 150 injuries or hospitalizations, and nearly 200 communities being advised or required to evacuate.

These incidents are not just isolated events; they are deeply ingrained in the entire chemical supply industry. 

“Chemical disasters are happening across the entire chemical supply chain, which depends on fossil fuels for feedstock, energy and distribution,” stated Maya Nye, Coming Clean’s federal policy director, as quoted by The Guardian. 

“So not only is the production of these chemicals contributing to chemical disasters,” Nye continued, “they are contributing to climate change, and endangering worker and community safety throughout their existence.” 

What’s being done about it?

In response to the growing concerns around this issue, the Environmental Protection Agency is working to finalize a new series of precautionary rules expected to be published by the end of the year.

The goals of the regulations are to enhance emergency preparedness, increase public access to information regarding hazardous chemicals, and implement new accident prevention requirements in the industry. 

The EPA is also considering the risks associated with extreme weather events linked to our changing climate in its proposed rules. 

Communities, policymakers, and industry leaders must work together in advocating for stronger safety measures to be put in place to reduce these hazardous chemical incidents, keeping the well-being of the public and the planet in mind. 

There are steps we can take in our personal lives to limit the negative impacts of dirty energy sources. Making the switch to an electric vehicle or using public transportation, cutting down on single-use plastic products, or even growing your own food are all small steps we can take that really add up. 

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