Toxic Exposure & Health Program

Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

48 Wall Street, 19th Fl.
New York, NY 10005
(212) 845-7376

Media Inquiries

Zahra Ahmad
Public Affairs and Communication Strategist

Legal Assistance Inquiries

Contacto de Prensa

Robert Valencia
Estratega de Comunicaciones y Asuntos Públicos Hispanos/Latinos
(212) 845-7376

Who We Are

Earthjustice’s Toxic Exposure & Health Program uses the power of the law to ensure that all people have safe workplaces, neighborhoods, and schools; have access to safe drinking water and food; and live in homes that are free of hazardous chemicals. We work to ensure that regulators acknowledge and redress the inequitable burdens imposed on Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) — by the manufacturing, use, and disposal of toxic chemicals. See bar admissions for our attorneys.

Isabel AnSenior Litigation Assistant

Adriana AntezanaStaff Scientist

Lakendra BarajasSenior Attorney

Alexandra de Mucha PinoSenior Program Associate

Geoffrey FettusManaging Attorney

Jonathan Kalmuss-KatzSupervising Senior Attorney

Kelly LesterSenior Associate Attorney

Katherine O’BrienSenior Attorney

Tosh SagarSenior Attorney

Kadijah SuttonLitigation Assistant

Our Impact

Strengthening Government Oversight

We’re pushing for bans or significant restrictions on chemicals that are harming communities and the planet, including petrochemicals, which account for a large proportion of the fossil fuel industry’s profits.

We fought for a badly needed upgrade to the Toxic Substances Control Act, and we are now in court to ensure the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) follows the revised law and protects frontline communities, other highly exposed populations such as workers and subsistence communities, and vulnerable populations such as children from toxic chemicals.

Highlights of our work include:

  • We fought for the 2016 upgrade to the Toxic Substances Control Act, with stronger stipulations for safety review, testing, and health protections. The law now requires the EPA to conduct risk evaluations of many of the chemicals people are exposed to in everyday products, drinking water, and air pollution. However, only a small fraction of these chemicals have actually been tested for safety.
  • We went to court in 2019 to stop the Trump administration’s attempts to roll back the Toxic Substances Control Act by adopting rules that disregard critical kinds of exposures and risks, including risks from legacy uses of very toxic chemicals such as asbestos. The Ninth Circuit ruled that the EPA must consider the full range of ways that people may be exposed to harmful chemicals when it is evaluating chemical risks. It also ruled that the EPA cannot pick some of a chemical’s uses to evaluate and ignore others.
  • Earthjustice plans to use this ruling to push for a better risk evaluation process for a number of chemicals currently under review, many of which are petrochemicals.

People — and the Environment — Over Profits

We’ll keep fighting to ensure the government protects people and the environment, not chemical company profits.

Highlights of our work include:

  • We have gone to court — multiple times — to demand stronger lead standards from the federal government. There is no safe level of lead exposure for children, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and about half a million children in the U.S. have levels of lead in their blood high enough to qualify as lead poisoning.
  • In June 2019, the Trump administration issued updated dust-lead hazard standards to comply with a court order we obtained in 2017. But the new standards are woefully flawed and too lax to protect families. So, we have sued federal government administration again — and won.
  • We’re committed to ensuring the EPA sets health-protective lead hazard standards so the public knows if their housing or child-care facilities contain hazardous lead levels — the first step towards a clean-up.

Keeping Toxic Chemicals Out of Consumer Products

We’re working to ensure that consumer products, including the food we eat, are free from toxic chemicals.

Highlights of our work include:

  • For many years Earthjustice has been fighting to protect families across the country from a class of toxic chemicals that are called organohalogens. Used as flame retardants and found in many household products, many of these chemicals are carcinogens and all of them disrupt our endocrine systems. After multiple hearings that stretched over several years, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) voted to move forward with rules that will ban this entire toxic class of chemicals from key consumer product categories.
  • Earthjustice will continue to be involved in the rulemaking process, advocating for strong regulations that will keep these chemicals from harming people and the environment.

Stopping Contamination From “Forever Chemicals”

We’re continuing our efforts to crack down on PFAS — a class of 5,000 toxic chemicals that don’t break down, and can remain in drinking water and our bodies for decades.

More than 200 million people across the country are likely exposed to food and drinking water contaminated with PFAS, which have been linked to serious medical problems, particularly in children.

Highlights of our work include:

  • We took the Department of Defense (DOD) to court over its contracts to burn millions of gallons of unused firefighting foam containing PFAS in incinerators across the country. The DOD is the nation’s largest user of firefighting foam containing PFAS. Incomplete incineration results in emissions of PFAS and other toxic chemicals such as hydrogen fluoride, which is poisonous, corrosive, and flammable.
  • We’re fighting for the passage of the PFAS Action Act, which was approved by the House of Representatives in January 2020. This bill would require the EPA to mandate cleanup of sites contaminated with PFOA and PFOS and require a national drinking water standard for PFAS within two years. Earthjustice is working with our legislative partners to get this bill passed by the Senate and signed into law.
  • In addition, Earthjustice is working with a coalition of state-based organizations to adopt strong state-level regulations of PFAS.
  • President Joe Biden has pledged to designate PFAS as hazardous substances, enforce limits in drinking water, incentivize companies to use alternatives, and accelerate research about their toxicity. Earthjustice will continue to push political leaders to develop and implement meaningful regulations and ensure that impacted communities know when PFAS are released near where they live, work, or go to school; that medical monitoring is available for communities that have been exposed to high levels of PFAS; that incineration of PFAS waste is prohibited unless careful environmental review concludes that it is safe; and that new PFAS are not approved.

Recent News
July 11, 2024 Press Release

EPA Grants Petition to Regulate PFAS Found in Plastic Containers

The federal agency will start a rulemaking process to address toxic ‘forever chemicals’ found in more than 100 million fluorinated plastic containers

July 10, 2024 In the News: Post & Courier

‘Forever chemical’ polluters land hefty contracts to meet electric vehicle battery demand

Eve Gartner, Director, Toxic Exposure & Health Program: “It’ll take centuries before there’s enough data to figure out how dangerous each PFAS is.”

A child fills a drinking glass with water from the faucet.
July 1, 2024 Press Release

Community Advocates Seek to Defend EPA’s PFAS Drinking Water Standards in Court

Chemical Companies and Water Providers are challenging the EPA’s right to protect the public from PFAS in their drinking water