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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

With Congress set to vote, new government report on children calls for more, not less, reporting of toxic chemical releases

New Government Report on Children Underscores Folly of
Weakening Public Right-to-Know Standards for Toxics


(Washington, DC, May 17, 2006) – A new report on children and health, partly funded by the U.S. government, underscores the folly of weakening public right-to-know standards for toxic pollutants, the non-profit Clean Air Watch warned this morning.

The report, released this morning by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a North American environmental watchdog agency, examines the link between children’s health and toxic industrial pollution.

The report (available at www.cec.org) comes as Congress is about to debate efforts by the Bush administration to limit the public’s right to know about toxic releases by industry.

In contrast, the new study calls for efforts to better determine the sources, levels of exposure, and risks that industrial chemicals pose to children's health.

The report focuses on the releases of carcinogens, developmental and reproductive toxicants, and suspected neurotoxins, as reported by the U.S. Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and a counterpart Canadian program. It finds that lead, mercury, PCBs, dioxins and furans, phthalates and manganese are substances of either significant or emerging concern as they affect children and disease.

One report recommendation - to enhance mandatory pollution reporting requirements – “stands in stark contrast to the Bush administration's plan to weaken the public’s right to know about toxic releases,” noted Frank O’Donnell, president of the non-profit Clean Air Watch.

The EPA has proposed to reduce the frequency of TRI reporting by industry to every other year as well as to allow companies to release ten times the amount of toxics before detailed reporting is required.

The Bush plan has prompted Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Hilda Solis (D-CA) to announce they will challenge the EPA rule when the spending legislation for the EPA reaches the House floor, probably later this week. They plan to offer an amendment to prevent the EPA from moving forward with these weakening changes.

In addition to ranking clusters of toxic chemicals according to volume of total reported releases, the new report also examines chemicals based on the relative levels of their toxicity.

Doing this makes some air pollutants such as mercury appear far more significant, O’Donnell noted. For example, in looking at chemicals that are recognized developmental and reproductive toxicants, mercury and its compounds jump from 14th in terms of total on-site air releases to number one in terms of toxicity; lead and its compounds shift from 7th to the second most toxic on-site air release.

O’Donnell noted it was ironic that the report was released on what the EPA has called “National Air Quality Awareness Week” – a label that has been lampooned by some critics because of administration efforts to weaken clean-air requirements.

2 comments:

JRW said...

Off topic, but in your realm Frank.

You need to be learning about Hemp and educating the public.

Look up Henry Ford. Check out www.hempcar.org

You will begin to understand why it isn't legalized....

Anonymous said...

You will also not hear of the American Thoracic society in the news. Yet its all about the childrens health at all costs when polititicans talk in the meda. Why not change things now, since they care for children more then industry (when doing speeches)? There's no doubt why deaths, and cancer is increasing.

Newswise — David H. Ingbar MD, president of the American Thoracic Society, today called the proposed standards issued by the Environmental Protection Agency for ozone pollution–commonly known as smog-“unhealthy for America’s kids, unhealthy for America’s seniors, and unhealthy for America.”

“The science is clear,” Dr. Ingbar said, “ozone pollution is causing unnecessary, illnesses and death in America. The proposed EPA standards fall short of providing the protection needed to keep Americans safe from ozone air pollution.”

In announcing the proposed standard today, EPA is calling for a modest tightening of the current standard of 0.08 ppm/8-hours. EPA is proposing a revised standard in the range of 0.075 ppm/8-hours to 0.070 ppm/8-hours. While suggesting a stricter standard, EPA is still considering retaining the current standard. The range proposed by the EPA falls far short of the standard of 0.060 ppm/8-hours supported by the American Thoracic Society and others in the scientific community.

By failing to adopt a more stringent ozone standard, EPA is ignoring the strong scientific evidence that shows real harm being caused by ozone pollution at the current standard. “In issuing the standard today, EPA is ignoring the advice of their own staff, the advice of EPA advisory committees, the opinion of the medical and scientific community,” says Dr. Ingbar. “More importantly, EPA is ignoring the all the kids who will be spending part of their summer in the hospital emergency room from asthma attacks caused by ozone pollution.”

To assist the EPA in analyzing and interpreting the scientific data, the EPA convened a panel of experts called the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee. CASAC, which included members with academic and industry backgrounds, analyzed the available data. They unanimously concluded the current standard does not protect public health and recommended a standard between 0.060 and 0.070 ppm/-8-hours.

Since the ozone standard was last reviewed in 1997, researchers have published a growing body of evidence documenting the adverse health effects of ozone exposure, including increased respiratory disease and higher mortality rates, at levels below that being considered by the EPA in their proposed rule. link