Whistleblowers Expose EPA Corruption

How senior Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials side with industry and expose us to dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals.

EPA whistleblower allegations documented by The Intercept tell an astounding story of the lengths to which senior EPA officials go to ensure that chemicals, no matter how dangerous, get approved for use in the US despite warnings from their own scientists. It is another example of how cronyism is undermining our health.

The stories told by the four whistleblowers demonstrate systematic attempts to downplay the danger of chemicals that the EPA assesses. In some cases, information about health hazards was simply deleted from scientists’ assessments, allowing chemicals on the market which would not have been approved. According to the whistleblowers,

The entire New Chemicals program operates under an atmosphere of fear — scientists are afraid of retaliation for trying to implement the [Toxic Substances Control Act] the way Congress intended, and they fear that their actions (or inactions) at the direction of management are resulting in harm to human health and the environment.

In one example, a scientist was reviewing a chemical for which animal studies demonstrated a serious potential for harm. Rats exposed to a single dose became lethargic, lost weight, and had trouble moving; some even became comatose or died. This raised a red flag, and the reviewing scientist wanted more information. But in a meeting with her supervisor, the scientist was pressured to make the problem disappear. According to the whistleblower: “I knew [my supervisor] wanted me to make the hazards go away, and she even said that: ‘Why don’t you take a look at the actual study data again, and maybe the hazards will go away?’ [emphasis added].”

This was not an isolated incident. A chemist reviewing a mixture of compounds found that one of the components caused miscarriages and birth defects in rats. These effects were noted in the chemical’s hazard assessment, which must by law be added to the chemical’s safety data sheet, a document the Occupational Safety and Health Administration uses to communicate risk to workers. The company, of course, was not happy about this requirement. A representative of the company, an ex-EPA official, met with the chemist’s supervisors the next day; after that meeting, another assessment of the chemical was uploaded to the EPA’s system omitting the information about the birth defects and miscarriages.

The whistleblowers note what should be obvious: the pressure to change these assessments stems from the companies, and the EPA supervisors made this clear. In one heated exchange about the need to make a chemical appear safer than it was, a whistleblower reports that a supervisor shouted that “the company went apeshit when they saw this document.”

There are other ways in which EPA undermines our safety. The EPA requires scientists to assess the risk posed by a chemical only if the release of that chemical reaches a certain threshold. EPA scientists concluded that a chemical posed a cancer risk. But a manager changed the assessment to say that cancer was not a concern because the chemical would be diluted in the air upon release.

We’re increasingly learning that these chemicals do, in fact, pose a danger, especially to the communities situated near chemical plants. We’ve seen a similar effect for endocrine disruptors: a small change in hormone concentration—the equivalent of one drop of water in 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools—is enough to have an effect on the human endocrine system.

The sad truth is summed up by one of the whistleblowers: “Our work on new chemicals often felt like an exercise in finding ways to approve new chemicals rather than reviewing them for approval.” 

We’re experiencing the cumulative impact of decades of cronyism ushering dangerous chemicals onto the market. We recently reported on a paper that argues environmental exposures to dangerous chemicals, among other things, underpins the epidemic of chronic disease that make COVID outcomes so much worse. Unfortunately, it’s all about money. EPA managers, many of whom seek cushy jobs in industry after their government work, don’t want to impose warnings or restrictions on chemicals that make them harder for companies to profit from. This cronyism is making us sick, and vulnerable communities are the ones paying the steepest price.

Congress must act to reign in this corrupt agency.

Action Alert! Write to Congress and tell them to investigate and address systematic corruption at the EPA that endangers public health. Please send your message immediately.


  1. Earth needs all possible help to keep on living and caring the human being. Or the eminent disaster will occur. To us all.

  2. I worked as an RN in the EPA Health Unit in Crystal City VA and was told similar stories by the Doctors who came to the HU for health care!! SAD COMMENTARY ON OUR GOVERMENT!!

  3. Congress do investigate and address systematic corruption at the EPA that endangers public health.

  4. We want these damned toxins out of our food, our land and water and air. Stop poisoning our world!!

  5. This is unofficially well known, but often censored information. Add to this that the medical profession and food marketers often encourage/urge people to uptake these toxic substances. Sometimes those who refuse are mocked or refused treatment. How to repair this broken system and take it away from corporations? Commonly, the FDA is considered one of the least reliable sources. However, it is pushed while other sources (reliable or not) are declared bogus and sidelined.

  6. The “Environmental Protection Agency” has become little ore than an advertising arm of the polluters. Their role in protecting the environment has been either de-emphasized or forgotten completely, largely because of bribery. EPA officials are often former employees of the polluters, and go right back to those jobs when their time at the EPA ends.

  7. The EPA needs to be free of cronyism. Administrators should not be changing results found by scientists because companies don’t like them. The EPA should only have administrators who are unbiased scientists willing to protect the public against these greedy dishonest companies that are poisoning our air and water. .

  8. If you’re in the Environmental Protection Agency you should be working to protect the environment, not destroy it!

  9. Please don’t put our health in jeopardy. You are supposed to be safeguarding our health!

  10. This is the kind of corruption that taints to much of government. This is why we need strong whistler blower protections and honest officials, not hacks for corporate America. This is why there must be a ban on officials going to work for the industries they formerly were supposed to regulate.

  11. The general populace has been lead to believe the EPA was established for and monitors the safety of many agents to be used in the production of our foodstuffs, our water supply, medications and environmental products.
    To destroy that trust is beyond contempt and not to be tolerated; It must be punishable by law and those laws exacted.
    As citizens we are financing the EPA which makes the funding for it our paying for our own demise.
    Positively disgusting!

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