This Thursday, CHEJ joined environmental health leaders, environmental justice organizers, and nurses from Alaska to Texas for a spirited rally outside of Exxon Mobil’s Houston corporate offices to demand an end to the poisoning of our communities and kids’ toys. We blasted Exxon Mobil for blocking new restrictions on toxic chemicals that damage children’s health and pollute local communities. Betty the Be Safe Ducky, the symbol of phthalate-laden PVC toxic toys, made a special visit to Texas just for the occasion.
Environmental Justice in Texas
For far too long, Exxon has been polluting communities around Texas with their toxic emissions. Asthma afflicts nearly 1 million children in Texas and accounts for almost 200,000 hospitalizations a year. In the Houston-Galveston region alone, roughly 76,000 children suffer from asthma.
“Exxon’s petrochemical plants were built around historic communities of color, and now Texas and Louisiana families are suffering from illnesses, such as asthma and cancer, linked to the toxic chemicals they release,” explains Juan Parras of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services.
Exxon’s Corporate Profits Over Children’s Health
In recent years, Exxon Mobil has been playing politics with our children’s health. Exxon is the largest manufacturer of phthalates in the United States, and for years has been doing all they can to defend their dinosaur product line at the expense of our children’s health. How have they done this?
- In 2008, Congress banned toxic phthalates in PVC toys, which Exxon aggressively lobbied against. The legislation set up a committee within the Consumer Product Safe Commission (CPSC) to review the hazards of some phthalates like DINP that were temporary banned in the legislation. Ever since, Exxon has aggressively lobbied the federal government to overturn the ban on these toxic phthalates.
- Exxon has also worked to stall the EPA’s chemical action plan on phthalates, by lobbying the White House Office of Management and Budget, who has been reviewing the action plan for over 500 days now. 500 days!
- Even more recently, Exxon has been working to influence the EPA’s Design for the Environment (DFE) program to assess safer alternatives to phthalates.
- ExxonMobil also opposes Congressional approval of the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, which would overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the nation’s broken chemical safety law that was last updated 35 years ago.
Rather than lobbying government officials to protect their corporate profits at the expense of children’s health, ExxonMobil should invest in safer chemicals that are healthier for children, workers and communities.
American Public Health Association and PVC
Thursday’s action comes on the heels of the American Public Health Association, one of the nation’s largest health associations, calling for a phase-out of phthalate-laden PVC in schools, daycare centers, hospitals, and other facilities with vulnerable populations. The new policy focuses on PVC particularly because of the hazards of phthalates. While Congress has banned phthalates in toys, they continue to be widespread in our nation’s schools and hospitals.
This resolution by one of the largest association of health professionals in the United States is an important new voice calling for government agencies to take action to address the risks posed by PVC and phthalates.
See what CNN had to say about this new policy.
Emerging science: PVC chemicals harmful to kids’ health
The science is clear. Phthalates are harmful to children’s health, and phthalate-laden PVC products have no place in our nation’s schools or hospitals.
Will Exxon listen up?