The recent regulatory freeze on all studies or data from scientists at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by President Trump’s administration has caused great concern within the scientific community. Because of this freeze, data and information will not only be at risk for revisions and censorship for political purposes, but the reduced transparency will also lead to uncertainty in the future of human health.
The root cause and solutions to public health issues are societal, relying on policies that shape the environment around the individual. Scientific studies support the development of effective, evidence-based policies that seek to ameliorate health-related problems. The recent freeze on environmental data reporting would likely result in the inability for policy-makers to plan and protect their community, as they would be less aware of the extent to which environmental issues impact populations, resulting in key issues not being included in their agendas. Additionally, the reliability of the data and study results that are released after undergoing political review may be questionable; therefore, policies that are developed on the basis of these data and results may not truly reflect the needs of the environment or the population in question.
The effect of the regulatory freeze also trickles down to individuals in the community. The EPA’s data reporting includes area-specific environmental information, allowing individuals to find local data on topics such as air quality, drinking water and food, and toxic chemical releases. Furthermore, the EPA educates and raises awareness to the public on health-related matters, such as the dangers of wood-smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning, encouraging a preventative approach to public health issues. Being barred from accessing reliable data, it is likely that people will slowly become less aware and less informed of the environmental dangers that could cause them serious harm. As such, the executive order ultimately impedes an individual’s ability to make informed choices to promote and protect their health.