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Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families thanks Kathleen Sebelius

A study from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) called the Report on Carcinogens, confirmed for the first time that the U.S. government considers formaldehyde a known human carcinogen and styrene as a reasonably anticipated human carcinogen. The report gives a science-based analysis on substances in our environment that could put Americans at risk for cancer.

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families thanked HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the Administration for releasing the study about the risk that toxic chemicals pose for our health. You can check out the letter here:

June 23, 2011

Dear Madam Secretary:

On behalf of the 300 organizations with over 11 million members that belong to Safer Chemicals, Health Families I’m writing to thank you for your decision to release the 12th Report on Carcinogens (ROC).

It’s a sad commentary on the state of politics in Washington that it requires courage and determination for agency officials merely to do their jobs, apply the law and follow the science.Yet that was clearly the case with the ROC and we want you to know that we recognize it.

The chemical industry, led by the American Chemistry Council, has fought tooth and nail for decades against any action that would designate any chemical as harmful no matter how overwhelming the evidence. Their interventions had delayed this report for four years. It was overdue.

As you know, your agency was merely applying long-­‐established scientific criteria in accordance with a decades-­‐old law. The agency’s finding was in keeping with designations by international bodies, like the World Health Organization, and domestic ones, like the National Academies of Sciences.

In this context, the ferocious response to the ROC release from the American Chemistry Council simultaneously strained the bounds of shamelessness and absurdity. It’s not merely untrue that the designation will harm American manufacturing. In fact, the opposite is true. The regulatory paralysis that was embodied in the previous delay is emblematic of a bigger problem that is undermining America’s standing in the world marketplace right now.

Once the United States led the world in setting the standard for public health protections. We are now lagging woefully behind, especially in the area of chemicals. Our major trading partners have updated their laws and are able to implement them, unburdened by the political and regulatory gridlock that Washington trade associations have made into an art form. American companies struggle to establish the health and safety bona fides of their products in a world where Europe, Japan, and Canada are increasingly writing the rules.

We will only get back on top if our public health protections for chemicals are updated, and if agencies like yours are allowed to do their jobs without interference from vested interests. Releasing the 12th Report on Carcinogens was an important step in that direction.


Andy Igrejas, Director, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families

Lawrence Rzepka, Executive Director Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network

Patricia Lillie President, Learning Disabilities Association of American

Barb Sattler RN, DrPH, FAAN Chair, Board of Directors, Alliance of Nurses for a Healthy Environment

Rose Gonzales, MPS, RN Director, Government Affairs, American Nurses Association

Jeanne Rizzo, RN President, Breast Cancer Fund

Jeff Sell VP for Advocacy, Autism Society of America

Gary Cohen President and Co-founder, Health Care Without Harm

Richard Denison, PhD. Senior Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund