U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is facing criticism from Republicans across the political spectrum for plans to decimate the agency's budget.
Writing in The Atlantic magazine recently, Christine Todd Whitman, EPA head under President George W. Bush, warned the steep agency cuts will threaten Americans' health.
The Trump administration's budget proposal would slash the agency's budget by 31 percent and eliminate about one-fifth of the workforce. If enacted, the budget would be EPA's lowest in four decades, after adjusting for inflation, she said.
"Beyond the raw numbers, the unprecedented budget cuts to the EPA would pose a great danger to Americans' lives if enacted. Practically speaking, funding for climate-change research would be axed, public-health programs would be effectively defunded, state environmental programs would be closed, and regional projects would end. Make no mistake: Human health would be endangered," Whitman wrote.
Among the most harmful cuts to human health are a program that tests and screens for endocrine disrupters, which can cause health problems like reduced fertility and some cancers, and may be especially harmful in developing fetuses and very young children, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Trump's budget would cut funding for screening for these harmful chemicals from $7.5 million to $445,000, which Whitman said would leave the program "inoperable and ineffective."
The budget also guts funding for a small program aimed at testing for radon in homes. The radioactive material is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and is responsible for about 21,000 deaths a year, according to EPA.
Finally, the administration's cuts could cripple efforts to clean up pollution in major bodies of water, through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Chesapeake Bay Program. Trump's budget would eliminate funding for the Chesapeake Bay and would slash GLRI funding by over 90 percent. Whitman noted that around 40 million people in the U.S. and Canada get their drinking from the Great Lakes.
Read more at GOP Hits Pruitt from All Sides on Budget, Climate Policy