Quietly, Bush Administration Seeks to Relax Rules on Workplace Toxins

Political appointees in the U.S. Labor Department are working behind the scenes to soften the rules regulating workers’ exposure to chemicals and toxins, according to The Washington Post. Over the objections of the department’s own scientific experts, the department is seeking to change the methods of assessing risk of exposure to toxins. Currently, risk is calculated on the assumption that workers would be exposed to toxic chemicals on a daily basis for as long as 45 years. Industry and business officials say that assumption overstates the risks involved, and the Labor Department is seeking to bring rules more into line with industry’s desires. The department also is seeking to make it more difficult to set new limits on chemicals in the workplace.