Daily News Archive
From April 13, 2001

Industries Lobby Hard to Squelch EPA Report on Dioxin: Report links dioxin to cancer

Industry groups including the American Chemistry Council, the Chlorine Chemistry Council, the Chemical Manufacturers Association, the American Meat Institute and the National Cattlemen's and Beef Association are waging an intense campaign to delay the release of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) report on dioxins. This eagerly awaited study has been in the works for more than ten years. According to the Washington Post, scientists and officials are confident of the report's findings, including the determination that dioxins cause cancer in humans (click here to read the article). However, industry groups and congressional Republicans have voiced such intense opposition to the study that its release may be delayed for several more years. One cannot help but be reminded of the recent Bill Moyers special report "Trade Secrets" that aired on PBS stations in March, 2001. The report revealed chemical industry decisions that covered up information about the risks of exposure to vinyl chloride.

Dioxins are known to bioaccumulate in fatty tissues and milk. An EPA study in the report reveals that animal fat and milk contain trace amounts of dioxin. Consumption of these animal products can lead to cancer. The politically active chemical, livestock and meatpacking industries contributed $1,171,000 to Bush's campaign last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (see opensecrets.org for more information about campaign contributions). Industry officials are lobbying the administration to postpone indefinitely release of the study until other agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, can conduct lengthy studies.

The delay in the release of the dioxin study has been cited by EPA as a reason for the delay in the completion of the agency's risk assessment of the wood preservative pentachlorophenol (penta). Penta is an extremely toxic chemical in its own right and it is contaminated with dioxins, furans and hexachlorobenzene. EPA's preliminary science chapter, released in 1999, found that children exposed to soil contaminated with penta face a 220x increase cancer risk. EPA also calculated that 100% of workers that paint penta on to utility poles will suffer from cancer.

Beyond Pesticides has been following and commenting on EPA's reevaluation of penta and the other major wood preservatives creosote and copper chromium arsenate (CCA). The agency was originally scheduled to complete the reassessment in 1998, the most current information is that the agency will not complete its work until 2003. For more information about the risks associated with exposure to the wood preservatives see our two reports Poison Poles, and Pole Pollution, both available on our website. We encourage you to write to the Administrator of EPA at:
Christine T Whitman
USEPA Headquarters
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N. W.
Washington, DC 20460
and voice your concern about the delay in the release of the dioxin study and the reassessments of the wood preservatives.