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E-M:/ Chemical Industry Uses Influence to Derail Safeguards



Title: Chemical Industry Uses Influence to Derail Safeguards
Press Release, 4/3/01 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

"BEHIND CLOSED DOORS"
CHEMICAL INDUSTRY USES INFLUENCE TO DERAIL PUBLIC HEALTH SAFEGUARDS
Meanwhile, Communities Are Exposed to Dioxin

As high-level government officials met today in Washington DC
to discuss the fate of scientific findings that have been
held up for a decade, community groups released a report
containing new evidence that the chemical
industry has been working behind the scenes to keep the cancer
risk and other health impacts of dioxin secret from the public.

"The industry has fought action on dioxin tooth and nail for 20 years. It is scandalous and it must stop.  We need to get to solutions," said Diane Hebert of Environmental Health Watch in Midland, Michigan.

The report details the tactics used by the chemical industry to keep under wraps a federal document on the hazards of dioxin.  The report also charges the industry with undermining progress to establish safeguards to protect the public health.  Dioxin is one of the most toxic compounds known.  It has been found at elevated levels in the Midland community and surrounding areas, as well as in other industrialized areas of the state. 

The report comes in the wake of Bush Administration roll backs of important environmental standards due to industry pressure - including carbon dioxin emissions, arsenic in drinking water, and right-to-know legislation on lead.  Safeguards to protect people from dioxin could be next on the chopping block. 

The report also follows on the heals of a widely-viewed Bill Moyers PBS special on the chemical industry called "Trade Secrets."  The documentary uncovered thousands of internal industry documents demonstrating a pattern of willful deception. 

Also last week, a report was released by scientists at the University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston, which found dioxin levels remain high in the US food supply.  The study found no decline in food from test samples taken more than a decade ago. Through food alone, Americans are getting 22 times the maximum dioxin exposure suggested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the study said.  Among nursing infants, that level is 35 to 65 times the recommended dosage.   For those who live in regions with dioxin sources, exposures may be greater. 
"It is long past time to address dioxin contamination, and to phase out sources of this toxic poison.  And its time for the chemical industry to put a halt to the army of lobbyists and the oceans of money and the onslaught of distorted science they use to protect their bottom line.  Have they no shame?  We are all imperiled by their actions," said Terry Miller of Lone Tree Council. 

A copy of the report is available on the following website: www.chej.org.  Please also visit the Ecology Center's web site at www.ecocenter.org for more information and resources on this issue. 

April 3, 2001         
CONTACT: Diane Hebert 517-832-1694
Terry Miller 517-686-6386
Tracey Easthope 734-663-2400x109