PROTECTING ACCESS TO ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION

News in Brief

Chemical Companies Set to Oppose TSCA Disclosure (ICIS.com)

Chemical companies are planning to lobby against the proposed TSCA reform to disclose chemical hazard information and chemical identities. Conversely, NRDC Senior Attorney Daniel Rosenberg asserts, “Besides the EPA not having enough information about these chemicals, the public doesn’t either."

(16 Jun 2010)

Security Continues to Block Media Access to BP Cleanup Site (WSDU.com)

On-site security on a public Louisiana beach "attempted repeatedly to prevent a WSDU news crew from...speaking with cleanup workers--a confrontation that followed a BP corporate promise not to interfere in such a manner."

(16 Jun 2010)

Sen. Schumer Asks FDA to Share Data On Possible Sunscreen Chemical-Cancer Link (The Washington Post)

Sen. Schumer (D-NY) asked the FDA on Sunday to disclose findings about the possible connection between retinyl palmitate and skin cancer. According to Schumer, "With the recent reports suggesting a possible link between skin cancer and a common chemical found in sunscreens, the FDA must now act to protect consumers," particularly by evaluating the scientific data and providing recommendations.

(14 Jun 2010)

The Poison Crib: When Protective Chemicals Harm (Salon.com)

Recent scientific evidence has led the EPA to propose putting a popular flame retardant, which is used in nursing pillows, cribs, and strollers, among other products, on their list of Chemicals of Concern. PBDEs, the most widely used chemical, is linked to ADD, hyperactivity, hearing problems, slow mental development, and cancer in children. According to the CDC, 97% of Americans have flame retardants in their blood.

(11 Jun 2010)

Ingredients of Controversial Dispersants Used on Gulf Spill Are Secrets No More (The New York Times)

The EPA disclosed a full list of ingredients in Corexit 9500 and 9527, the dispersants used in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY) commented, "In order to hold BP accountable and to protect our citizens, we must provide all the information to the public and independent researchers so that they can verify the unfolding situation and long-term impact."

(09 Jun 2010)

Wyoming Approves Hydraulic Fracturing Disclosure Rules (The Associated Press)

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission approved a regulation requiring energy companies to reveal the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing. Energy companies were concerned that disclosing the chemicals in fracking fluid would hurt their competitiveness. However, Steven Jones of the Wyoming Outdoor Council affirmed, "It's going to be important for landowners and the public to get access to that information, to know what fluids they are using," particularly in the event of groundwater contamination.

(09 Jun 2010)

As Cleanup Nears, Neighbors of Price's Pit Superfund Site Still Worry About Long-Term Health Effects (Atlantic-City Pleasantville Brigantine)

Nearly thirty years after describing a New Jersey landfill as "the most serious environmental problem in the United States," the EPA plans to begin cleanup of the Superfund site in August. For years, local residents uknowingly consumed contaminated water and are now concerned about the link between the polluted groundwater and their health problems.

(08 Jun 2010)

Admiral Orders 'Uninhibited Access' to Oil Spill Operations (ABC)

The National Incident Commander for the oil spill efforts recently announced that "[T]he media will have uninhibited access anywhere we're doing operations, except for two things, if it's a security or safety problem.  That is my policy.  I'm the national incident commander.” However, the media is still combatting silence from government workers and private contractors.

(07 Jun 2010)

Open Health Data and Electronic Innovation As A Means to Healthier Communities (O'Reilly Radar)

The National Association of Counties (NACO), GE, Bing, Healthways, and Google have created internet applications to reveal health information to the public. The goal of this initiative, which is driven by Health and Human Services (HHS), is to enable "...citizens to make better health decisions and providers to make data-driven policy." If successful, this project will "'make our community data as useful to the world as weather data or other types of data is to other parts of American life,'" said HHS's chief technology officer Todd Park.

(07 Jun 2010)

Indian Court Convicts 7 in Bhopal Gas Tragedy (New York Times)

Seven Union Carbide India Ltd. officials were convicted today for failing to follow proper safety procedures prior to the 1984 methyl isocyanate gas leak. Local activists contend that the government has failed to properly clean up the toxic chemicals left at the Union Carbide-owned pesticide plant after its closing. This disaster drove the U.S. Congress to pass legislation to prevent similar occurrences in the United States and create the Toxic Release Inventory.

(07 Jun 2010)

FDA Finds Lead in Lipstick (Cox Newspapers)

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is concerned that all of the red lipsticks tested by the FDA were found to contain lead. Although the lead levels detected were small, the Florida Department of Health affirmed that "'There is no safe level of lead in blood.'" In reference to the possibility of lead posioning from lipstick use, Stacy Malkan of The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics stated, "'I think some companies are not doing a good job sourcing their ingredients.'"

(04 Jun 2010)

What Cannot Be Seen in Oily Gulf Worries Federal Wildlife Experts (Financial Times)

There is currently uncertainty among the scientific community about the long-term effects of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. At the moment, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chief of Environmental Quality is calling the impact of the oil spill, which affects wildlife, the surrounding ecosystem, exposed workers, and the food web, "'a giant experiment.'"

(04 Jun 2010)

Government-Approved Pesticide Levels Are Linked to Health Problems (CNN)

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently published "The Dirty Dozen" and "The Clean Fifteen," lists of produce with the highest and lowest pesticide concentrations, after reviewing 100,000 pesticide reports from the USDA and the FDA. Studies have found associations between pesticides and health problems even when consumed in low amounts approved by the FDA and EPA. According to EWG's Amy Rosenthal, "It's critical people know what they are consuming."

(04 Jun 2010)

Research Links Pesticide Ingestion to ADHD in Children (Los Angeles Times)

Researches recently reported that children with high levels of the pesticide malathion in their urine are at greater risk of contracting Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. Epidemiologist Marc G. Weisskopf of Harvard University's School of Public Health and his colleagues studied data on 1,139 children from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey over a four-year period. Weisskopf suggests that similar studies "'should raise eyebrows and get people concerned enough to want to follow up intensively.'"

(04 Jun 2010)

Toxic Chemicals Finding Their Way Into The Womb (CNN)

"A growing number of studies are finding hundreds of toxic chemicals in mothers' and, subsequently, their babies' bodies when they are born."

(04 Jun 2010)

Last Week to Comment On Expansion Of TRI

The EPA has proposed adding 16 carcinogens to the list of Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) chemicals. Public comments on this proposal are due by Monday, June 7, 2010. Comments may be submitted electronically here.

(02 Jun 2010)

Media Claim Access To Spill Site Has Been Limited (Associated Press)

Media organizations say they are being allowed only limited access to areas impacted by the Gulf oil spill through restrictions on plane and boat traffic that are making it difficult to document the worst spill in U.S. history. Media photographers have been blocked from the spill area by BP and the U.S. government.

(02 Jun 2010)

New Estimates of Oil Spill Much Greater Than Original (USGS)

According to an expert panel, "the independent analysis of the Flow Rate Technical Group has determined that the overall best initial estimate for the lower and upper boundaries of flow rates of oil is in the range of 12,000 and 19,000 barrels per day." Accurate information on the BP spill has been hard to come by, as shown by the initial estimates that 5,000 barrels per day were spewing into the Gulf.

(27 May 2010)

CNN Investigates Toxic Town (Center for Health, Environment & Justice)

"On June 2nd, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be airing an hour-long investigative story into the environmental health and justice problems plaguing the community of Mossville, Louisiana. Nestled amidst an alarming cluster of chemical plants, Mossville is home to more PVC chemical plants than anywhere else in the entire country, and has been dubbed the Vinyl Manufacturing Capital of America."

(27 May 2010)

More Attention for USDA’s Lack of Transparency (Environmental Working Group)

"There is increasing attention on the restriction of access to government records on taxpayer funded farm subsidies reported by the Environmental Working Group...It’s crucial for government to truly be accountable by identifying the farm subsidy recipients who use a maze of co-ops, paper farms and corporate entity shell games to maximize their haul of taxpayer dollars."

(26 May 2010)