By Emily Hauslohner, APA chief science writerThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday it has determined the lithium-ion batteries powering the nation’s cars, trucks and buses are not dangerous enough to pose a risk to public health.
The EPA also said it has ordered a halt to the production of more than a dozen cars and trucks that contain the batteries, which could increase safety risks for drivers.EPA Director Scott Pruitt announced the new decision during a press conference with his predecessor, former President Barack Obama.
Pruitt said the EPA’s decision was based on a “deteriorating” assessment of the lithium ion batteries, and that the EPA will consider whether to make any additional safety changes in the future.
Puitt also noted the agency’s recent decision to restrict the production and sale of more dangerous batteries.
In an earlier statement, the EPA said it had been in contact with manufacturers and other parties and that it would take “appropriate steps” if needed.
Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer and editor Dr. James Hansen, who wrote the book “Emissions From Deforestation and the Climate Impacts of Human Activity,” said he was concerned about the risk that lithium-ions could be used in dangerous ways.
Hansen also said the current regulatory system that has been in place since the 1950s makes it “very difficult for us to be able to stop something like this.”
He said it was “very important” for EPA to work with automakers and others to come up with a solution that protects the public.
Hansens book, released in June, was the first to make a direct connection between emissions from burning fossil fuels and climate change.
The new EPA decision will be met with skepticism by those who believe that the risk posed by the batteries is very small and that they can be safely used in a vehicle.
But, the experts said, they were also alarmed by the timing of the announcement, and by the EPA announcing that it had taken a new, precautionary approach to a battery problem that has already caused millions of premature deaths in the United States.
The batteries are manufactured by the Chinese company BYD, which has been accused of using excessive amounts of toxic chemicals to control pollution.
The batteries are also being sold at low prices in China and other parts of the world.
The lithium-iron batteries are found in the cars of more in the developed world than in developing nations, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and other developed countries.
The U.K. government has warned that it has been selling the batteries to China since 2009, and the U.N. agency said earlier this month that China had sold batteries to the U,N.
in violation of the U.,N.
Treaty on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons.