Donald Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged Wednesday that he isn’t familiar with basic science on the health effects of lead. At his confirmation hearing, Scott Pruitt was asked by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md) whether he believes there is any safe level of lead in the human body. “That’s something I have not reviewed nor know about,” Pruitt responded. He went on to say that he would be “very concerned about any level of lead” in drinking water or human consumption but added that he had “not looked at the scientific research on that.”
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It’s heartening to know that Pruitt is concerned about lead poisoning. But his lack of familiarity with research on the issue is surprising for someone who is seeking to run the nation’s top environmental regulatory body. After all, the science on the issue is clear: According to the Centers for Disease Control, “No safe blood lead level in children has been identified.” The EPA itself agrees, stating that “there is no known safe level of lead in a child’s blood.”
The city of Flint, Michigan, has been in the headlines since 2015, after it was revealed that the city’s water supply had been contaminated with lead, leaving thousands of children exposed to poisoned water. During the hearing, Pruitt criticized the EPA for not responding quickly enough to the Flint crisis.