Website Uncovers Sensitive
Chemical Industry Secrets
Environmental Working Group
March 27, 2001
Washington, March 27- Fifty years of confidential chemical company
memos, letters, reports and meeting minutes reveal an industry that
continues to this day to mislead the public about toxic chemical
hazards and exposures, an environmental research group said today.
The Environmental Working Group posted more than 35,000 pages of
internal chemical company documents online for the first time, in the
Chemical Industry Archives at www.ewg.org.
"These are documents America's chemical companies never wanted the
public to read," said Kenneth Cook, president of EWG. "Their own
words make clear they have distorted science, hidden information
about chemical risks, and fought fiercely to delay, weaken or kill
environmental safeguards for five decades."
"We believe these documents show that the chemical industry cannot be
trusted to tell the truth about the health and safety risks of the
products it makes and the chemical plants it operates," Cook said.
"We are calling on Congress to investigate the chemical industry."
Among the hundreds of revelations in the documents:
The group called on 3M to immediately fund an independent blood
testing program for manufacturing, wholesale and retail workers who
may have been heavily exposed to the Scotchgard chemical over the
past 30 years.
- Forty years ago, America's leading chemical companies
conspired to keep secret from thousands of beauty shop workers that
the clouds of hairspray they applied every day exposed them to high
levels of a potent carcinogen.
- By 1970, Monsanto knew from its own testing that its plant in
Anniston, Alabama had severely contaminated rivers, downstream lakes
and fish with PCBs. But it kept that information from its neighbors
in Anniston for decades, many of whom now have extremely high levels
of PCBs in their blood.
- The documents show how major U.S. chemical companies and
their trade associations plotted strategies to defeat or delay almost
every major effort to tighten safeguards for workers or protect air,
drinking water and wildlife from toxic chemicals or laws.
- Just last year, the 3M company said it would withdraw the key
ingredient in its heavily marketed Scotchgard line from the market.
But the company neglected to tell the public that the Scotchgard
chemical raised serious health concerns at EPA and had been building
up in the blood of Americans for decades. Nor did 3M make clear that
the same chemical was not only used on carpets, furniture and
clothing, but also in candy bar wrappers, fast food containers and
other consumer products.
EWG is a nonprofit research group known for its computer
investigations of environmental problems.
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