Recently, two events have made the environment safer for us at home and in our communities. While the end result has been a positive forward, the process getting there explains why many perceive environmental regulation and safety in this country to be sub-par.

The Federal EPA has finally eliminated a requirement that for some (oil companies) justified the inclusion of the highly toxic MTBE into the gasoline sold in this country.

For many years we have known that MTBE has disastrous effects. It ruins our drinking water and when released into the air, makes people sick.

Unfortunately it took many, many years for regulators to take any action. They all put their heads in the sand, hoping that the problem would care for itself. But -- thinking positive -- this new regulation is better late than never.

What does this mean for all of us? It means that our drinking water will become safer, because MTBE will not be able to penetrate our drinking water supply system. This means less exposure to MTBE in the air as well.

The second hazard that has come under intense scrutiny -- lead based paint.

Why did companies manufacture lead paint in the first place? These companies will have to answer this, as they have now been called to task to address the fact that the paint that they produced has poisoned children for years across the country. Like the tobacco industries, and like the EPA in the case of MTBE, they all put their heads in the sand.

A jury in Rhode Island has found three major companies liable for lead paid poisoning in the state. With this case -- the other 49 states are likely to follow.

One witness who testified for the State reportedly indicated that a very small chip of lead paint, even smaller than the size of a fingernail, could send a child into convulsions if that chip were to be swallowed.

Did the lead companies know the risks of the paint and continue to manufacture?

If the lead companies were responsible, they would have proactively taken action earlier to come up with a win-win situation. A situation that is good and protective for young children in this country, and yet a situation that could have been handled in a way that would have been manageable for these large companies.

All in all, however, the EPA and environmental activist are slowly and surely bringing change to our country -- changes that make us all breathe a little easier.

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