Lisa Jackson

Photo: © Les Stone/Greenpeace

Faith-Based and Socially Responsible Investors Call on EPA to Strengthen PVC Air Safeguards

Print

Investors urge EPA to protect environmental justice communities

Photo: © Les Stone/Greenpeace

Washington, DC — Public pressure is mounting for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen toxic air pollution standards at polyvinyl chloride (PVC) chemical plants, especially for two that were singled out for weak standards in a new set of rules that the agency released addressing emissions from nationwide facilities.

The newest action comes from over a dozen faith-based and socially responsible investors in a letter sent to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson today.

Nearly twenty investors, with more than $9.8 billion assets under management, including some who own shares in PVC plants, are calling on the EPA to reconsider the rule. In a letter submitted to EPA today, they write:

“Setting PVC industry emission standards that are weaker than EPA’s initial proposed standards is counterproductive to efforts begun by investors, community groups, and local regulatory officials to reduce the toxic burden in environmental justice communities.”

The latest letter builds on the concerns raised in a July letter signed by 60 national and local environmental health and justice groups and submitted to the EPA. The investor letter also attempts to reinforce the concerns that Mossville Environmental Action Now (MEAN) presented at the July meeting of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), a federal advisory committee to EPA. All of these efforts reinforce the petition Earthjustice filed in June on behalf of MEAN, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Air Alliance Houston, and Sierra Club in June asking EPA to grant reconsideration and issue a new, stronger air toxics rule without delay.

“As long term investors of persified portfolios we believe strong and consistent protections of public health and welfare are essential to long term economic growth, and in turn the prospects of companies in our portfolios,” said Susan Baker of Trillium Asset Management. “Communities in Mossville and Deer Park have the right to breathe clean air.”

According to the EPA, there are 17 plants in the United States that manufacture PVC resin, and they emit more than 1400 tons of hazardous air pollutants every year. These emissions include more than 270 tons per year of vinyl chloride, a known human carcinogen. They also include benzene, 1,3-butadiene, and dioxins, all of which also are known human carcinogens, as well as probable human carcinogens such as acetaldehyde and formaldehyde. Dioxins are widely considered some of the most toxic chemicals on the planet, targeted for phase-out by 170 nations around the world.

The EPA’s emission standards for the plants in Mossville and Deer Park are especially weak, allowing these plants to emit toxic pollutants at far greater concentrations than other PVC facilities.

While initially proposing to grant these communities at least the same protection as those elsewhere in the U.S., the EPA then decided without warning or any opportunity for public comment to create special categories for these two sources, even though the agency recognized that the plants are similar to and could use the same types of pollution control technologies that are generally available and in use by other PVC facilities.

“We have been shouldering the burden of breathing this poisoned air for much too long, leaving us with unparalleled levels of disease and illness,” said Dorothy Felix of Mossville Environmental Action Now. “Advocates for clean air from all sectors will continue to call on EPA to strengthen these standards because it is clear that our communities were unfairly singled out.”

“Exposing communities to chemicals that cause sickness and cancer is not the way to keep our economy strong,” said Sister Judy Byron of the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment. “These facilities have more than enough money to install protections that would limit the amount of poison people breathe.”

“Our community is continually exposed to cancer-causing pollution from the local PVC plant which spews its chemicals into our neighborhoods, schools and churches,” said Matthew Tejada of Air Alliance Houston. “For an agency committed to environmental justice to set weaker standards for PVC plants in communities that need protection the most is simply unacceptable.”

Here is a map showing the locations of PVC plants nationwide.

Here is emissions data information for all 17 facilities.

Here is the investor letter to EPA (submitted today).

Here is the 60-group letter to EPA (July 17, 2012).

Here is the petition for reconsideration (June 18, 2012) filed by Earthjustice on behalf of MEAN, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Air Alliance Houston, and Sierra Club.

For more information, contact:

Raviya Ismail, Earthjustice, (202) 745-5221; rismail@earthjustice.org

Mike Schade, Center for Health, Environment & Justice, (212) 964-3680; mike@chej.org

Susan Baker, Trillium Asset Management, (617) 532-6681; SBaker@trilliuminvest.com

LoisandLisaJacksonThankYou

Big news! EPA Health Report on Dioxin Released After Twenty Seven Years of Delays

Print

(Falls Church, VA) Today the US EPA has finally released their major report on the noncancer health effects of dioxin, which for the past twenty seven years has been delayed due to interference from the chemical industry.  Environmental and health groups across the country celebrated this important milestone.

“We applaud EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and the Obama Administration for finalizing this important health report on dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet,” said Lois Marie Gibbs, Executive Director of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ). “After twenty seven years of delays, I quite honestly never thought this report would ever see the light of day.  Today the American people won a major victory against the chemical industry, who has been working behind closed doors for decades to hide and distort the truth about the dangers of dioxin.  The science is clear: dioxin is toxic to our children’s health and development.  We strongly urge the EPA to now finish the job by finishing their review on dioxin and cancer, and to develop a comprehensive action plan to further reduce dioxin emissions and exposures.  To start, the EPA should finalize the EPA’s proposed cleanup standards for dioxin at toxic sites, which have been languishing at the White House OMB since 2010.  We call on the Obama Administration to dust off the prestigious National Academy of Sciences report on dioxin in food to explore innovative policies to reduce the levels of dioxin in the food supply.”

Dioxin is building up in our bodies as a result of the food we eat.   According to EPA over 90% of human exposure to dioxin occurs through our diet.  Dioxin is most prevalent in meat, fish, dairy, and other fatty foods.

EPA has been under enormous pressure by environmental health, environmental justice, labor, health-impacted, and Vietnam Veterans organizations to release the non-cancer health assessment in recent weeks and ever since President Obama entered office.  In January a letter was delivered to EPA Administrator Jackson signed by over 2,000 organizations and individuals.  Over the past month a broad coalition of organizations have written to EPA urging the agency to finalize this report. This includes the Breast Cancer Fund, Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ), Endometriosis Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Greenpeace, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, National Medical Association, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, Vietnam Veterans of America, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Canadian Environmental Law Association, , Clean Water Action, Ecology Center, Edison Wetlands Association, Environmental Working Group, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Healthy Child Healthy World, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, International POPS Elimination Network (IPEN), Ironbound Community Corporation, Kentucky Environmental Foundation, the Lone Tree Council, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, 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.

In January, Rep. 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 assessment.  In April, Rep. Markey and 72 members of Congress sent a letter to EPA calling on the agency to release the report.

Dioxin is a known human carcinogen.  Dioxin also causes a wide range of adverse non-cancer effects including reproductive, developmental, immunological, and endocrine effects in both animals and humans. Animal studies show that dioxin exposure is associated with endometriosis, decreased fertility, the inability to carry pregnancies to term, lowered testosterone levels, decreased sperm counts, birth defects, and learning disabilities.  In children, dioxin exposure has been associated with IQ deficits, delays in psychomotor and neurodevelopment, and altered behavior including hyperactivity. Studies in workers have found lowered testosterone levels, decreased testis size, and birth defects in offspring of Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

Dioxin’s effects on the immune system of the developing organism appear to be among the most sensitive endpoints studied. Animal studies show decreased immune response and increased susceptibility to infectious disease. In human studies, dioxin was associated with immune system depression and alterations in immune status leading to increased infections.  Dioxin can also disrupt the normal function of hormones—chemical messengers that the body uses for growth and regulation. Dioxin interferes with thyroid levels in infants and adults, alters glucose tolerance, and has been linked to diabetes.

In response to anticipated concerns about dioxin in food, the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) has prepared these top six tips for reducing exposure to dioxin in food:

  1. Eat less animal fat — buy lean meats and poultry – and cut off the fat before cooking.
  2. Eat fat free dairy products – or as low as you can – for dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt.
  3. Fish is a healthy food choice – but fish are also affected, so avoid fatty fish (such as salmon) and cut the fat off before cooking and eating.
  4. Purchase food products that have been grain or grass fed.  Farm animals fed food with animal products that includes other animal’s fat increases the amount of dioxin ingested by livestock and increases the amount of dioxin that is in the consumer meat product.
  5. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  6. Breast feed your babies – breast milk is still the healthiest food for your baby.

According to EPA, dioxin releases increased by 18% from 2009-2010 nationally.  Dioxin air releases increased by 10%.  Some of the top U.S. companies that reported releasing dioxin into the environment in 2010 were Dow Chemical, Missouri Chemical Works, Gerdau Ameristeel, Lehigh Southwest Cement, Formosa Plastics Corporation, Temple-Inland, Cahaba Pressure Treated Forest Products, and Clean Harbors Aragonite.  Three of these facilities make chemicals to produce polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. Municipal waste incinerators, medical waste incinerators, landfill fires, and backyard burn barrels are some of the other top sources of dioxin in America.

For a copy of EPA’s new dioxin health report, visit http://www.epa.gov/dioxin

For a fact-sheet on the hazards of dioxin, visit http://chej.org/wp-content/uploads/Documents/Dioxin%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

For frequently asked questions about dioxin in food, visit http://chej.org/wp-content/uploads/Frequently-Asked-Questions-About-Dioxin-and-Food.pdf

For a detailed history of dioxin delays, visit: http://chej.org/wp-content/uploads/DioxinTimeframeFebruary2012.pdf

###

LisaJacksonFacebook

Take Action: Urge EPA to release dioxin health report

Print

We are SO CLOSE to convincing EPA to finalize their health report on dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet.

We’re up against some of the biggest chemical corporations in the world, and with your help, we can win this fight for environmental health and justice!

TAKE ACTION: Send a powerful message to EPA urging them to make good on their promises to finalize their dioxin report. The head of EPA, Lisa Jackson, is on Facebook.  If you’re on Facebook, can you post a brief message on her Facebook “wall” urging EPA to finalize their health report on dioxin?   I just did and it only takes a minute.

Here’s how it’s done:

1) Go to Lisa Jackson’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/lisapjackson Click “like” if you don’t already “like” her on Facebook.  This is the professional account she uses at EPA.

2) Now at the top of her page, where it says “share: Post” write a short message to Lisa Jackson about why you want EPA to release their health report on dioxin.

3) It doesn’t have to be long – just a brief sentence or two would be perfect!  Here’s a few examples of statements you could post or modify below.  After you finish, click “share” to have your message posted to EPA Administrator Jackson’s wall.

Sample messages you can use:

  • EPA: No more dioxin delays!
  • EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson – it’s time for you to finalize and release EPA’s long-delayed dioxin health report.  No more delays!
  • We, the American people, have the right to know about dioxin’s toxic hazards.  It’s time for EPA to finalize and release its dioxin health report once and for all.

That’s it!  In order for you to see your message after it’s posted, click the “Everyone Most Recent” link near the top of the page.

If you’re not on Facebook, alternatively you can e-mail her at: jackson.lisap@epa.gov

Thanks so much for your help and support.  Together we can win this!

Yours for a dioxin-free future,

Mike Schade, Campaign Coordinator

Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ)

PS – After you take action, if you don’t want to receive updates from Lisa Jackson on Facebook, just click “unlike” on the bottom left hand side of her page after you’re done.


Dioxinkidsdog

Tell EPA: We have the right to know!

Print

For almost 30 years the American people have been waiting for the EPA to release their report on the health impacts of dioxin.  We know dioxin is one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet, but without a final report, the EPA’s and state governments’ hands are tied to meaningfully protect us from this unnecessary hazardous chemical that is building up in our food and bodies.

The EPA was poised to release this report last month, but unfortunately they gave into pressure from the chemical industry by once again delaying the release of this crucial health report. EPA’s inaction has generated a wave of media coverage around the country, from the Wall Street Journal and CNN, to Good Magazine.

We’ve been waiting since 1985 — we can’t let them get away with this any longer! That’s where you come in.

Help us send a powerful message to EPA: We have a right to know about the health hazards of toxic dioxin, and we won’t be denied this right anymore. Here’s what you can do:

1)      They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  That’s why we’re asking you to take a picture of yourself, friends, family, and/or children holding this sign highlighting how we’ve been denied the right to know about dioxin’s toxic hazards.

2)      All you have to do is download it, print it out, and take a picture with it.  Feel free to be creative and personalize the sign, or better yet, make your own!

3)      Once you take a picture, attach it to an e-mail and send it to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson at: jackson.lisap@epa.gov and CC it to us at: CPOC.Intern2@chej.org

4)      Include a short message in your e-mail about why you’re concerned EPA has denied you the right to know about the health hazards of dioxin.

5)      Please be sure to CC us at CPOC.Intern2@chej.org so we can track how many people send in photos.  We plan to collect them all and post them on our website to make sure the EPA hears our call loud and clear.

So, can you do it? It should only take a few minutes, and would be a huge help!

Trust me, you’re not alone.  Vietnam Veterans, breast cancer advocates, environmental justice leaders and many others have raised their voices and called on EPA to finalize this study once and for all. Thousands of people and organizations have signed a letter calling on EPA to finalize this report.

With your help, we can win this crucial fight.

Yours for a toxic-free future,

Mike Schade, PVC Campaign Coordinator

Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ)

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

Paging Lisa Jackson (and the rest of the EPA)

Print

I still can’t believe it.

This week, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson delivered a gift to Dow Chemical and the rest of the  chemical industry.

I bet you’re wondering.  What’d she do?  Nothing.

You see, that’s the problem.

For twenty seven years, we’ve been waiting for the release of the EPA’s report on the health hazards on dioxin.  Since 1985!  We know dioxin is one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet, but without a final report from EPA on the health impacts of dioxin, the EPA’s and state governments’ hands are tied to meaningfully protect us from this unnecessary poisonous chemical.

For twenty seven years, every step of the way, the chemical industry and big ag have delayed the release of this critical public health report.

We’ve been waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting.  It’s not just us.  Vietnam Veterans, breast cancer advocates, environmental justice leaders and many others have raised their voices and called on EPA to finalize this study once and for all. Thousands of people and organizations have signed a letter calling on EPA to finalize this report.  We’re all in this together.

Our rallying cry?  Enough is enough – no more delays!  After all, we have the the right to know.

And I’m afraid to say, it’s happened again this week.  I still can’t believe it.

That’s why we need your help.  We can’t let them get away with this!

In response to these new delays, we issued a national press release blasting EPA .   Our founder and Executive Director, Lois Gibbs, who’s been working on dioxin issues for over 30 years, had this to say:

“Shame on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson for denying parents the information they need to protect their children from the health impacts of dioxin. This is America — parents have the right to know.  Today the EPA has once again caved into pressure from Dow Chemical and their chemical industry cronies.  EPA shouldn’t cave in to chemical industry dollars and interests over public health.  Cancer, diabetes, infertility, learning disabilities and other chronic diseases linked to dioxin exposure are extremely costly to American taxpayers. EPA missed yet another deadline to release their report on dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet.  In recent months, the chemical industry has been working behind closed doors to hide and distort the truth about the dangers of dioxin.  At the same time, Vietnam Veterans, breast cancer advocates, public health organizations, and environmental justice leaders have stood shoulder to shoulder and urged EPA to do what’s right for the health of American children and families.  We call on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to immediately release this important report.  We can’t wait any longer.”

Our allies at the Lone Tree Council did as well. Michelle Hurd Riddick of the Council had this to say:

“Since the mid 1980’s when the Reagan administration permitted Dow Chemical to rewrite the EPA report on dioxin, administration after administration in the White House has cowed to this company and their lobbyists.  Public health is being sacrificed, our water resources disregarded and science is being ignored once again in an effort to placate the moneyed interest. It is indefensible that this administration capitulated to industry, reaffirming the belief of most Americans that corporations have greater influence and more control and rights than people”

This has generated a wave of media coverage around the country, from the Wall Street Journal and CNN, to Greenwire, the Saginaw News, Michigan Public Radio, and the Atlantic.

The American Chemistry Council (aka Dow Chemical’s spokespeople) was quoted as saying, “Another delay is unfortunate.”

What?  That’s just exactly what they want.

EPA has been amazingly silent this week.  They issued no official statement on the timeframe for next steps.  No update to the science plan.  Nothing.

I still can’t believe it.

Where is EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson?

Paging Lisa Jackson, the American people are waiting for you.  We can’t wait any longer.

denied

Environmental Health Leaders Blast EPA for Failing to Release Dioxin Health Report

Print

Once Again American Public Denied Right to Know and Ability to Protect Families from Unnecessary Exposure

Advocates Urge EPA to Immediately Release Dioxin Health Report, Decry 27 Years of Delays Due to Chemical Industry Interference

(Falls Church, VA) For twenty seven years, the American public has been kept in the dark about the health impacts of dioxin.  Today environmental health advocates strongly condemned the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for once again failing to meet their January 31st deadline to release their report on the noncancer impacts of dioxin.

“Shame on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson for denying parents the information they need to protect their children from the health impacts of dioxin,” said Lois Marie Gibbs, Executive Director of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ). “This is America — parents have the right to know.  Today the EPA has once again caved into pressure from Dow Chemical and their chemical industry cronies.  EPA shouldn’t cave in to chemical industry dollars and interests over public health.  Cancer, diabetes, infertility, learning disabilities and other chronic diseases linked to dioxin exposure are extremely costly to American taxpayers. EPA missed yet another deadline to release their report on dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet.  In recent months, the chemical industry has been working behind closed doors to hide and distort the truth about the dangers of dioxin.  At the same time, Vietnam Veterans, breast cancer advocates, public health organizations, and environmental justice leaders have stood shoulder to shoulder and urged EPA to do what’s right for the health of American children and families.  We call on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to immediately release this important report.  We can’t wait any longer.”

EPA has been under intense pressure by environmental health, environmental justice, labor, health-impacted, and Vietnam Veterans organizations to release the non-cancer health assessment in recent weeks and ever since President Obama entered office.  Last week, a letter was delivered to EPA Administrator Jackson signed by over 2,000 organizations and individuals from across the country.

Over the past three weeks a broad coalition of organizations have written to EPA urging the agency to finalize this review The coalition includes Breast Cancer Fund, Endometriosis Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Greenpeace, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, Vietnam Veterans of America, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Canadian Environmental Law Association, Center for Health, Environment & Justice, Clean Water Action, Ecology Center, Edison Wetlands Association, Environmental Working Group, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Healthy Child Healthy World, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, International POPS Elimination Network (IPEN), Ironbound Community Corporation, Kentucky Environmental Foundation, the Lone Tree Council, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, 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.

In January, Rep. 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 assessment.  In April, Rep. Markey and 72 members of Congress sent a letter to EPA calling on the agency to release the report.

Dioxin is a known human carcinogen.  Dioxin also causes a wide range of adverse non-cancer effects including reproductive, developmental, immunological, and endocrine effects in both animals and humans. Animal studies show that dioxin exposure is associated with endometriosis, decreased fertility, inability to carry pregnancies to term, lowered testosterone levels, decreased sperm counts, birth defects, and learning disabilities.  In children, dioxin exposure has been associated with IQ deficits, delays in psychomotor and neurodevelopment, and altered behavior including hyperactivity. Studies in workers have found lowered testosterone levels, decreased testis size, and birth defects in offspring of Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

Dioxin’s effects on the immune system of the developing organism appear to be among the most sensitive endpoints studied. Animal studies show decreased immune response and increased susceptibility to infectious disease. In human studies, dioxin was associated with immune system depression and alterations in immune status leading to increased infections.  Dioxin can also disrupt the normal function of hormones—chemical messengers that the body uses for growth and regulation. Dioxin interferes with thyroid levels in infants and adults, alters glucose tolerance, and has been linked to diabetes.

According to EPA, dioxin releases increased by 18% from 2009-2010 nationally.  Dioxin air releases increased by 10%.  The top ten U.S. companies that reported releasing dioxin into the environment in 2010 were Westlake Vinyls, Dow Chemical (Freeport Facility), Dow Chemical (Louisiana Operations), Missouri Chemical Works, Gerdau Ameristeel, Lehigh Southwest Cement, Formosa Plastics Corporation (Louisiana), Temple-Inland, Cahaba Pressure Treated Forest Products, and Clean Harbors Aragonite.  Four of these ten facilities make chemicals to produce polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. Municipal waste incinerators, medical waste incinerators, landfill fires, and backyard burn barrels are some of the other top sources of dioxin in America.

Most Recent Dioxin Timeline:

January 31, 2012: EPA once again misses their deadline for finalizing their report on the noncancer impacts of dioxin.

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

January 10-31, 2012: Over a two week period, 30 organizations send letters to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson urging EPA to finalize dioxin studies:  http://chej.org/2012/01/lisa-jackson-finalize-the-epa%E2%80%99s-dioxin-study-once-and-for-all/

January 11, 2012: International Dairy Food Association (IDFA) and other members of the Food Industry Dioxin Working Group, a coalition of agriculture, processing and retail food industry organizations that have been pressuring EPA and the Obama Administration to once again delay the release of the  dioxin report, formally ask EPA to withdraw its dioxin risk reassessment from interagency review and remove it from EPA’s regulatory schedule. http://www.idfa.org/news–views/details/6833/

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

January 5, 2012: EPA announces that overall dioxin releases increased by 18% from 2009-2010 nationally, and dioxin air releases increased by 10%: http://markey.house.gov/press-release/markey-epa-no-more-delays-dioxin-health-assessment

December 20, 2011: American Chemistry Council (ACC) requests EPA delay the release of the dioxin reassessment: http://www.americanchemistry.com/Policy/Regulatory-Reform/Cal-Dooley-Letter-to-Administrator-Jackson-Fix-Dioxin-Reassessment.pdf

December 7, 2011: IDFA and other members of the Food Industry Dioxin Working Group, urge the White House to intervene on the dioxin reassessment: http://www.idfa.org/key-issues/category/food-safety–defense/details/6721/

November 2, 2011: IDFA writes to U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and requests that the two agencies “urge EPA to pursue scientific review by the National Academy of Sciences of any proposed reference dose and to coordinate with your agencies any actions that could undermine consumer confidence in the safety of our food supply.” http://www.idfa.org/files/resources/idfa_dioxin_letter_vilsack_hamburg_102811.pdf

August 29, 2011: EPA announces 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

August 26, 2011: EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) releases their final report reviewing EPA’s draft dioxin Reanalysis: http://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabproduct.nsf/fedrgstr_activites/2A45B492EBAA8553852578F9003ECBC5/$File/EPA-SAB-11-014-unsigned.pdf

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

For a more detailed history of dioxin delays, visit: http://chej.org/wp-content/uploads/DioxinTimeframeFebruary2012.pdf

For a fact-sheet on the hazards of dioxin, visit http://chej.org/wp-content/uploads/Documents/Dioxin%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

###

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson: Finalize the EPA’s Dioxin Study Once and for All

Print

Pressure is mounting on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to make good on her promise to finalize the EPA’s 25+ year-long delayed Dioxin Reassessment.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

Today CHEJ’s Executive Director Lois Gibbs sent EPA Administrator Jackson a letter strongly urging EPA to finalize the Dioxin Reassessment once and for all.  Lois has been working on dioxin issues for over 30 years, even going back to 1978 when she organized her neighbors to be relocated from the dioxin-contaminated community at Love Canal.

You can read the letter here, and I’ve selected some choice excerpts:

“It is outrageous that EPA has been evaluating the risks of dioxin exposure since 1985 – for more than 25 years – and that the agency has repeatedly allowed the regulated industry to delay its efforts to finalize its assessment.

As EPA has continued to work on the Dioxin Reassessment, people in communities across the country are continuing to be exposed to this highly toxic chemical.

Yet once again, industry is attempting to stall the release of this important report. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) and other industry trade associations are once again pressuring the agency to further delay the release of this important document. Once again they are asking for more review, more certainty, and more delays.  EPA will never satisfy these requests no matter what information you provide, because these groups continue to benefit from an incomplete report that is not finalized.

EPA has a moral and ethical responsibility to make public in final form its best scientific opinion on the health risks posed by exposure to dioxin and dioxin-like compounds. The American public has a right to know about the health consequences of exposure to dioxins, and EPA needs to take steps to protect American families from this unnecessary harmful class of chemicals.”

We’re not in this alone.

A broad coalition of environmental health, environmental justice, labor, Vietnam, women’s groups, and reproductive health organizations has joined this urgent call.

Today, James Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who represents over 1.4 million workers, sent a letter to Lisa Jackson urging EPA to finalize this report.  The Teamsters represent many workers that are likely exposed to dioxin on the job, as EPA has reported landfill fires are one of the biggest source of dioxin in America.  The letter reads in part:

“Over 32,000 of our members are represented by the Teamsters Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries Division.  The Teamsters Union is committed to standing up for the rights of all waste workers.

Waste workers may potentially be exposed to dioxin from landfill fires, the disposal of residual ash generated by incineration, and commercial and industrial sites that were not properly cleaned up.

According to your Agency’s January 5, 2012 report, air releases of dioxin rose 10 percent from 2009-2010, while other releases, such as landfill disposal, increased 18 percent.

These exposures to dioxin, in addition to its presence in our food supply, means that waste workers may face increased risks of high dioxin levels.

I am pleased that the EPA “is committed to a transparent, scientifically sound process to determine how this chemical impacts Americans’ health” and I respectfully urge you to move expeditiously, past two decades of delay, to guard the health of American workers, families and the public from this unnecessary hazard.”

Last week Rep. Markey (D-MA), Ranking Member of the Natural Resources Committee and senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, sent EPA a fantastic letter urging EPA to finalize this dioxin study.  You can read Markey’s letter and press release here. This comes at a time when EPA actually announced dioxin releases increased by 18% from 2009-2010, and dioxin air releases increased by 10%.  Read about it in this story in the Washington Post.

A growing body of organizations have written to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson the past few weeks urging the agency to act on dioxin.  Other organizations include:

You can join us by signing on to our letter to EPA, which we plan to deliver next week.

Will you join us and stand up to the chemical industry?

Dioxin_320x480

CHEJ’s Statement on EPA Plan to Finalize Study on Dioxin

Print

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday August 30, 2011

CONTACT: Mike Schade, CHEJ, mike(at)chej.org / 212.964.3680

CHEJ Statement on EPA Plan to Finalize Study on Dioxin, One of Most Toxic Chemicals Known to Science

Falls Church, VA — The Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) issued the following statement today in response to the EPA Science Advisory Board’s (SAB) completion of their dioxin report, and EPA’s announcement to finalize their long-delayed study on dioxin.

“We commend the EPA for continuing to move forward to finalize their study on dioxin, an extremely toxic chemical that even babies are exposed to in the womb,” said Lois Marie Gibbs, Executive Director of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ).

Gibbs continued, “In their final report released  on Friday, the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) panel called on EPA to “move in a proficient and expeditious manner” to finalize the dioxin study.  Ten years ago, another EPA SAB panel also urged EPA to also complete and release this report “expeditiously.”  How much longer will we have to wait?  EPA pledged to finalize and release this report by the end of 2010 but missed their self-imposed deadline.  For over 20 years, EPA’s study on dioxin has been delayed time after time.  We call on EPA to move as quickly as possible in finalizing the Dioxin Reassessment.  American families have been exposed to this poisonous chemical for far too long.  Dioxin is one of the most toxic chemicals known to science and has been targeted for international phase-out by a treaty signed by over 170 nations across the world.  Every American eats dioxins when they consume fatty foods, and every American has measurable levels of this chemical in their body.”

ATTENTION JOURNALISTS:

EPA’s press release is available here: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/1e5ab1124055f3b28525781f0042ed40/dae0812e5b4ef50e852578fb0057355b!OpenDocument

Additional background material on dioxin is available here: http://chej.org/campaigns/besafe/projects/dioxin/

###

About the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ)

The Center for Health, Environment & Justice exists to mentor the movement to build healthier communities by empowering people to prevent harm caused by chemical and toxic threats.  We accomplish our work by connecting local community groups to national initiatives and corporate campaigns.  CHEJ works with communities to empower groups by providing the tools, strategic vision, and encouragement they need to advocate for human health and the prevention of harm.

Following her successful effort to prevent further harm for the people living in contaminated Love Canal, Lois Gibbs founded CHEJ in 1981 in order to continue the journey.  To date, CHEJ has assisted over 11,000 groups nationwide.  Details on CHEJ’s efforts to help people and communities prevent harm can be found at http://chej.org/.