HB 5963 was taken off the agenda for the House Government Operations Committee meeting today, and while we are not sure of the reason, it seems like a good idea to share with you some of the letters and testimony that has been sent or is ready to be presented at the hearing. Below are some of the letters already sent to the Committee, and more will be sent in separate emails:
June 14, 2004
Honorable Representative James Koetje
Dear Honorable Representative James Koetje,
I am writing to express my concern over a legislative proposal to raise the direct residential contact criteria for dioxin in soils from 90 ppt to 1,000 ppt.
At issue is dioxin; a group of persistent, highly toxic chemicals that cause cancer, reproductive damage and other effects at very low exposure levels. The non-cancer effects of dioxins include decreased learning ability, altered thyroid and liver function, and increased susceptibility to infections. These effects have been observed in children exposed to background levels of dioxins.
The proposal to raise the dioxin contact criteria appears to reflect confusion over the terminology employed by federal agencies. The 1000 ppt level is NOT a “health risk” standard. The Centers for Disease Control health risk standard for dioxins in residential soils is 50 ppt. If modifications are made to Michigan’s cleanup standard, then lowering it would be more consistent with efforts to protect public health.
Recently, other states have also proposed new dioxin cleanup criteria. However, unlike the proposed 1,000 ppt standard in Michigan, these standards better protect public health. For example, Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington have all enacted standards that range from 3.8 – 6.7 ppt, much lower than the current 90 ppt standard in Michigan.
The 1000 ppt figure in the proposal comes from studies published 20 years ago by Renate Kimbrough. Kimbrough formerly worked for both the Centers for Disease and Control and US EPA and currently works for a private consulting firm, Institute for Evaluating Health Risks. Kimbrough testified on behalf of Monsanto in an EPA investigation of falsification of dioxin health studies in 1990. An EPA memo cautions enforcement officials about Kimbrough saying that, “Dr. Kimbrough has provided expert testimony on behalf of other defendant corporations responsible for dioxin pollution even co-authoring papers with these defendants.” 1
Standards for residential contact with dioxins should place public health as the highest priority. This is also the obligation of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) who must assure, “…the protection of public health, safety welfare and the environment.” In addition, DEQ must determine the appropriate criteria for these protective measures and not delegate them to other agencies, university personnel, or private interests.
The events unfolding in Michigan are being observed internationally. I direct an international NGO project on persistent organic pollutants (such as dioxin) in partnership with two UN agencies with activities planned in 40 countries. International NGOs as well as intergovernmental agencies are paying close attention to issues involving dioxin and other persistent organic pollutants due to the legal entry into force of the Stockholm Convention. Dow Chemical’s legacy in many of our project countries makes public interest NGOs throughout the world especially focused on events in Michigan to see whether the legislature will support public health by maintaining the 90 ppt standard.
I urge you and the Committee to hear testimony by independent scientists and to fully publicly support the work of DEQ in protecting public health and the environment of Michigan by working to maintain and even strengthen the dioxin cleanup standard. Please share this request and information in this letter with members of the Committee on Governmental Affairs.
Thank you for your attention.
Joseph DiGangi, PhD
Director, International POPs Elimination Project
A project of International POPs Elimination Network in partnership with United Nations Industrial Development Organization, United Nations Environment Programme, Global Environment Facility
Environmental Health Fund
June 14, 2004 (FAXED & EMAILED)
Representative James Koetje
Michigan State Capitol
PO Box 30014
RE: Hearing to discuss Direct Residential Contact Criteria for dioxin in soils
Dear Representative Koetje and all members of the Committee on Governmental Affairs,
I am writing on behalf of the Environmental Health Fund, a national environmental and public health NGO focused on issues of chemical impact to public health. We are writing to urge you and all members of the Committee on Governmental Affairs to vote against any proposal to increase direct residential contact criteria for dioxin in soils from the state standard of 90 parts per trillion to the suggested 1,000 parts per trillion. Any increase would be inappropriate.
Dioxin is a proven human carcinogen. It is this fact and a sincere interest in protecting public health that lead the Boston City Council on August 27, 2003 to vote 13 – 0 in favor of a Dioxin Reduction Resolution. Councilman Felix Arroyo introduced the unanimously held resolution.
There were many convincing speakers at hearings to discuss this issue. Physicians, researchers, labor leaders, healthcare representatives, academics, and health impacted group representatives all spoke in favor of the resolution to reduce exposure to dioxin.
Here is what Paul Atwood, PhD, from The William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences told the council:
“As an early advocate for veterans on this issue [of dioxin exposure] I found that one of the most tragic aspects of the entire struggle was the record of deceit and cover-up practiced by the government and the chemical companies responsible for the manufacture of dioxin, including the giants Dow and Monsanto.
“The chemical companies own records indicated that their own scientists knew that Agent Orange was laced with high levels of dioxin and that they also knew of its carcinogenic and teratogenic effects. Yet this information was suppressed.”
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I urge you to heed Dr. Atwood’s remarks when you listen to the state of Dow science on the “safety” of dioxin exposure at 1,000 parts per trillion levels. Their record of information suppression must be considered. I further urge you to vote against any proposal to increase the state standard from 90 parts per trillion.
On July 2, 2003, as the Boston City Council was considering the dioxin reduction resolution, The New York Times reported that the Institute for Medicine, a health policy advisory body, “recommended the government do more to educate women and girls about how to limit their consumption of dioxin, which can be passed through the placenta to a fetus or through breast milk to an infant.”
As the Institute of Medicine is raising alarms about exposure to dioxin and calling on government to act in protection of women and girls, your committee is contemplating relaxing these alarms. To do the latter would appear to be wholly out of step with the state of the science on dioxin; science that is well understood and convincing in its utter indictment of dioxin exposure.
We urge you not to set yourselves in contrast to governments in cities like Boston, Buffalo, Seattle, Oakland, San Francisco and in states like Washington and Oregon, which have taken action to better arm agencies and the public to understand and address the threat of dioxin exposure. The only difference between the fine people in government in these locations and the fine people in government in Michigan is that none of the aforementioned have Dow Chemical headquartered in their area. I entirely trust that the profits of this corporation will not be set above the protection of Michigan residents by their own publicly elected members of government.
We urge each member of the council to vote against a proposed relaxation to the Direct Residential Contact Criteria for dioxin in soils.
Thank you for considering my letter. Please share it with all members of the Committee on Governmental Affairs.
Special Projects Director
cc: Boston City Councilman Felix Arroyo
Anne Woiwode, Director
Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter
109 East Grand River Avenue, Lansing, MI 48906
ph: 517-484-2372 fx: 517-484-3108 e: firstname.lastname@example.org