Environmental and Health Groups Call on EPA to Finalize Study on One of the Most Toxic Chemicals on the Planet

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Chemical Industry Stall Tactics Have Delayed Release of Study for 27 Years,  Groups Say

(Falls Church, VA) Pressure is escalating on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to make good on the EPA’s promise to finalize their 27 yearlong-delayed study on dioxin by the end of this January.  Today a broad coalition of environmental health, environmental justice, Vietnam Vets, labor, women’s groups, and health-impacted organizations delivered a letter calling on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to finalize their study on dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet.  Over 2,000 individuals and organizations from across the United States signed the letter.

“It is outrageous that EPA has been evaluating the risks of toxic dioxin since 1985 – for more than 25 years – and that the agency has repeatedly allowed the chemical industry to delay its efforts to finalize its study,” said Lois Marie Gibbs, Executive Director of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ). “EPA must take action to protect American children from exposure to this poisonous chemical which is building up in our bodies, breast milk and food.”

Dioxin is a chemical that is known to cause cancer. Learning disabilities, birth defects, endometriosis, and diabetes have all been linked to dioxin exposure. Dioxin weakens the human immune system and decreases the level of the male hormone testosterone. Almost every man, woman and child in the U.S. has measurable levels of dioxin in their bodies.  Babies are exposed to dioxin in the womb, and nursing infants are exposed to dioxin in breast-milk. Dioxin is the same chemical that was in Agent Orange.  Over 170 nations across the world have a signed a global treaty to phase it out.

Over the past two weeks a broad coalition of organizations have written to EPA urging the agency to finalize this study once and for all. This includes the Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Breast Cancer Fund, Canadian Environmental Law Association, Center for Health, Environment & Justice, Clean Water Action, Ecology Center, Edison Wetlands Association, Endometriosis Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Working Group, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Healthy Child Healthy World, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International POPS Elimination Network (IPEN), Ironbound Community Corporation, Kentucky Environmental Foundation, the Lone Tree Council, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, National Medical Association, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Physicians for Social Responsibility, Reproductive Health Technologies Project, Science & Environmental Health Network, The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, Union of Concerned Scientists, Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign, and Women’s Voices for the Earth.

“Cancer is killing our kids. Every sixty minutes, a child is diagnosed with cancer and every six hours a child will lose her battle to the disease. It’s time for the EPA to step up and set limits on dioxin to protect our families from chemicals that cause cancer,” said Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World, an organization that empowers parents to protect children from harmful chemicals. Healthy Child Healthy World collected 890 petition signatures urging the EPA to take action on dioxin.

Timeline

• January 26, 2012: Thousands of individuals and organizations from across the United States have written to EPA urging the agency to finalize this study once and for all: http://chej.org/wp-content/uploads/PVCSignOnLetterJanuary26.pdf

• January 10, 2012: Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), Ranking Member of the Natural Resources Committee and senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, sent EPA a letter urging the agency to finalize this dioxin study. http://markey.house.gov/press-release/markey-epa-no-more-delays-dioxin-health-assessment

• January 2012: EPA announced dioxin releases increased by 18% from 2009-2010, and dioxin air releases increased by 10%. http://markey.house.gov/press-release/markey-epa-no-more-delays-dioxin-health-assessment

• December 2011: American Chemistry Council and coalition of agricultural trade associations pressure EPA to delay release of EPA’s noncancer dioxin study, scheduled to be released the end of January 2012. http://www.americanchemistry.com/Policy/Regulatory-Reform/Cal-Dooley-Letter-to-Administrator-Jackson-Fix-Dioxin-Reassessment.pdf

• August 2011: EPA announced its final plan for completing their study on dioxin, which EPA has been working on since 1985. http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=209690

• April 2011: Rep. Markey and 72 members of Congress sent a letter to EPA calling on the agency to release this study. http://markey.house.gov/press-release/april-11-2011-markey-leads-call-epa-speed-action-dioxin

For a more detailed timeline, visit: http://chej.org/wp-content/uploads/DioxinTimeframe.pdf

For a copy of the dioxin coalition letter sent to EPA today, visit http://chej.org/wp-content/uploads/PVCSignOnLetterJanuary26.pdf

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Contact: Mike Schade, CHEJ, 212-964-3680, mike@chej.org

Source: Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ)