In May 2019, the Trump administration announced that it would revoke water quality standards for Washington state. This action reverses a 2016 decision by the Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency that required the state to improve water quality standards for multiple toxic pollutants that accumulate in fish tissue and harm people and orcas.
The people of Washington, and our orcas and salmon, need greater protection from toxic pollutants, not less! Tell EPA to protect Washington’s water quality standards.
Washington’s water quality standards set pollution limits for pollutants such as mercury, arsenic, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), lead, and various industrial chemicals that cause human health concerns including cancer, neurological damage, and reproductive issues. The standards include limits on human exposure to toxic chemicals in drinking water and locally-caught fish.
In 2017, industrial polluters filed a petition to EPA to rescind the strong standards, citing cost concerns for the technical improvements needed to reduce their pollution. Under the Trump administration, EPA caved to corporate interests and is now rolling back Washington’s protective standards to benefit industrial polluters. This is unacceptable!
Having strong water quality standards is critical to protect human health. One major change proposed by EPA will weaken the standards for PCBs. PCBs are carcinogenic, build up in fatty tissue, and are still being discharged in waste streams in Washington. PCBs and mercury commonly cause fish consumption advisories for most major waterways in our state, and our orcas are some of the most toxic animals on the planet due to PCB contamination.
EPA’s rollbacks will disproportionately harm tribal and fishing communities, and those that consume more fish, by allowing more toxic chemicals in our waters. It’s up to everyone to speak up.