Deepest Cuts: Repairing Health Monitoring Programs Slashed Under the Bush Administration

When it comes to protecting public health from dangerous contaminants, the Bush Administration has left a legacy of dismal failure. We rely on the government to monitor contaminants and hazardous residues to ensure that our food, water, air, communities, and consumer products are safe. For decades, federal agencies charged with safeguarding health and the environment have tracked pollution, required industry reporting, and monitored disease rates. These programs provide the foundation for all health and environmental protection. Without adequate monitoring, the public, the scientific community, and the government are unaware of the hazards around us. New NRDC research in this December 2008 issue paper shows that the Bush Administration has dangerously slashed federal environmental and health monitoring programs.

NRDC evaluated the current state of federal environmental and health monitoring programs at the end of the Bush Administration in five key areas: air, water, food safety, toxic substances, and human health. We found a disturbing and pervasive pattern of program and funding cuts that make it impossible for programs to fulfill their monitoring role.

These cutbacks will keep us in the dark about threats to our health while at the same time making it easier to pollute because of fewer requirements to document emissions. A system-wide accounting is needed to ensure the adequacy of environmental and health monitoring. Protecting public health requires immediate action to restore these comprehensive monitoring programs to test our environment and strong pollution reporting systems to keep contamination in check.