Environmental Health Leaders Blast EPA for Failing to Release Dioxin Health Report
February 1st, 2012
(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