Private laboratories have been caught faking environmental test results, according to officials in the U.S. EPA and the Justice Department. Companies often use private laboratories to test air, water, soil, petroleum, underground tanks, and other products and indicators; a clean tests yields a certificate of compliance with environmental regulations. David Uhlmann, who heads the Justice Department’s environmental crimes section, said that private labs “are oftentimes in bed with the people who hired them, and conspired to commit environmental crime.” Other instances of improper testing stem from poor training or efforts to cut corners in the interest of saving money. The upshot is that millions of people have been drinking improperly tested water and filling their cars with gasoline that may not meet clean-air standards, among other problems.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.