17,000 potentially harmful chemicals kept secret under obscure law
By Raw Story
Monday, January 4th, 2010 -- 11:37 am
Of some 84,000 chemicals being used commercially in the United States, some 20 percent -- or 17,000 -- are kept secret not only from the public, but from medical professionals, state regulators and even emergency responders, according to a report at the Washington Post.
And the reason for this potentially harmful lack of openness? Profit.
A 1976 law, the Toxic Substances Control Act, mandates that manufacturers report to the Environmental Protection Agency any new chemicals they intend to market, but manufacturers can request that a chemical be kept secret if disclosure "could harm their bottom line," the Washington Post reports.
Because they are secret, it's impossible to tell how many of the 17,000 chemicals are potentially harmful to people. But the Post notes that, in March of last year, more than half of the "substantial risk" reports filed with the EPA involved secret chemicals.
And chemical makers may be abusing their privilege under the law. According to the EPA, in recent years 95 percent of manufacturers' reports of new chemicals have made some request for secrecy. Ten of the secret chemicals are used in children's products
The Post reports that Congress this year will tackle reform of the 1976 law.
EPA head Lisa Jackson has begun an effort to increase transparency in commercial chemicals. The EPA recently announced it is creating a "Chemicals of Concern" list, which will detail substances that "may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health and the environment." The power to do that was granted to the EPA under the 1976 law, but has never been used before.
Environment News Service reports:
Jackson says the 1976 law is both outdated and in need of reform. The decision to list the chemicals further signals "this administration's commitment to aggressively use the tools at its disposal under TSCA," she said.In a press release, the EPA noted that, since the 1976 law was put on the books, the number of listed chemicals used in the US has increased from 60,000 to more than 80,000, but the EPA "has only successfully restricted or banned five existing chemicals and has only required testing on another two hundred existing chemicals."
"At the same time," Jackson said, "I will continue to fight for comprehensive reform of the nation's outdated chemical management laws that ensures a full assessment of the safety of chemicals on the market today and effective actions to reduce risks where chemicals do not meet the safety standard."
"Chemical safety is an issue of utmost importance, especially for children, and this will remain a top priority for me and our agency going forward," said Jackson, who is a mother.
Perchlorates: REPORT ON WIDESPREAD ROCKET FUEL POLLUTION IN NATION'S FOOD AND WATER
CLICK HERE TO SEND INSTANT LETTER TO YOUR SENATORS!
A new analysis of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control indicates that a toxic chemical in rocket fuel has severely contaminated the nation's food and water supply (read the Environmental Working Group study here).
Scientists warn that the chemical, known as perchlorate, could cause thyroid deficiency in more than 2.2 million women of childbearing age.
This thyroid deficiency could damage the fetus of pregnant women, if left untreated. Perchlorate, the explosive ingredient in solid rocket fuel, has leaked from military bases and defense and aerospace contractors' plants in at least 22 states, contaminating drinking water for millions of Americans.
Despite massive complaints, defense contractors such as Kerr-McGee have done little or nothing to clean up the pollution. Perchlorate has also been widely detected in milk, lettuce, produce and other foods. In an alarming study, the CDC found perchlorate in the urine of every person tested. The OCA has mobilized thousands of organic consumers to pressure the EPA and government officials to begin a massive clean up of perchlorate for over a year.
Background: The Environmental Working Groups new report is an anlaysis of data originally released in 2005, when the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released its long anticipated report on the human health effects of perchlorates, a byproduct of rocket fuel. Perchlorates, which are a common pollutant near military sites, have recently been found in the water at concerning levels in 22 states as well as in 93% of lettuce and milk. 97% of breast milk samples taken randomly from around the U.S. have tested positive for perchlorates.
The government funded NAS report reveals that perchlorates are roughly ten times more toxic to humans than the Department of Defense has been claiming. Perchlorates can inhibit thyroid function, cause birth defects and lower IQs, and are considered particularly dangerous to children.
The NAS report recommends human exposure at no more than .0007 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. The EPA has responded to the report by recommending a water standard reference dose of 24.5 ppb for perchlorate. This is bad news for military sites and rocket fuel plants around the country, including Henderson, Nevada, where EPA well monitoring has found perchlorates at a level 30,000 times higher than that. There are over 12,000 military sites in the U.S. that are used for training with live explosives.
The Pentagon is urging Congress to pass a new law that would allow the military to freely violate a host of environmental regulations. Entitled "The Readiness and Range Preservation Initiative," the legislation would allow military facilities to ignore laws like the Clean Air Act. The Pentagon claims environmental regulations are a threat to national security, since they restrict the military.
To date, only one Senator has had the backbone to propose legislation that would hold the military (and other perchlorate polluters) responsible for this excessive pollution of the U.S. food and water supply.
Senator Feinstein (CA) has proposed legislation that would spend $200 million to identify and clean up perchlorate sources and provide grants for technologies to clean up existing contamination, while holding perchlorate polluters responsible for cleanup efforts.
"It is imperative that we reduce the perchlorate in our drinking water and protect Californians, especially pregnant women, the unborn, infants, and young children from this threat to their health," said Feinstein of the bill.
21st CENTURY TIMELINE OF U.S. ROCKET FUEL POLLUTION SCANDAL
2002: EPA releases draft report highlighting widespread water contamination of a toxic rocket fuel byproduct known as perchlorate. The report indicates that most of the pollution is coming from U.S. military sites [Source] January 2003 : Courtroom proceedings reveal that aerospace and defense contractor Lockheed Martin was concealing documents for several years indicating the company knew about toxic levels of percholate contamination in the nation's vegetable produce. [Source] March 2003: California's Senator Feinstein demands the military clean up perchlorate pollution as a matter of public safety. The Department of Defense responds by saying it must be exempt from perchlorate liability, as a matter of anti-terrorist "readiness." [Source]. April 2003: Bush Administration puts gag order on the Environmental Protection Agency, mandating complete silence regarding military perchlorate pollution and human health impacts. [Source] November 2004: FDA finds perchlorate in 93% of lettuce and milk samples across the nation. Bush Administration requests no regulatory action take place until the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concludes investigation of human health implications. [Source] January 2005: NAS announces perchlorates are as much as ten times as toxic as what the Department of Defense had been claiming. Senator Feinstein of California announces forthcoming bill proposal to create federal perchlorate regulations and to allocate funding for cleanup of existing contamination. [Source] February 2005: EPA adopts NAS recommendations and recommends weak reference dose standards for drinking water without any public comment or review. [Source] June 2005: Senator Feinstein files letter with EPA requesting a review of perchlorate data and stricter perchlorate drinking water standards. [Source] October 2006: The Environmental Working Group releases a study indicating that perchlorate pollution has put 2.2 million women and their children at risk. [Source]
Fueling Cancer in Colorado
by Adrienne Anderson
Worried about soaring breast cancer rates? Kids with cancers in Colorado?
The single most important action citizens can take toward preventing cancer in Colorado is to STOP a current plan of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) that would allow one of the most potent toxic and cancer-causing compounds known to be kept hidden, even if present at levels nearly 73,000 times higher than state standards for human health protection allow.
What's the History?
The Titan II Missile Program in Colorado is history, but its highly toxic legacy and risks for escalating cancer rates among our residents is not.
Huge amounts of highly toxic wastes from the fuel mixed for the missiles were released into Colorado’s environment for decades.
The top-secret fuel, known as Aerozine-50, was a blend that included 50% hydrazine, a compound that readily breaks down into n-nitrosodimethylamine (or NDMA, for short), dangerous and highly carcinogenic compounds. The potent propellants gave the Titan IIs, the largest inter-continental missiles ever developed by the U.S. Air Force, the capability to travel at 15,000 miles per hour to targeted locales over 5,000 miles away, with the intent to obliterate entire populations then deigned as threats to U.S. security.
Threats to Local Water
Now, the poisonous substances threaten the safety of our own local water supplies at numerous sites throughout the state.
Fueling the controversy is a current proposal by Colorado’s health agency that would allow huge levels of a deadly fuel compound, known as n-nitrosodimethylamine (or NDMA for short) to be masked from public detection, despite potent risks for public health and higher cancer rates, the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center warns.
Under the plan, a lab in Colorado would not have to report detections of NDMA in submitted samples unless the level was nearly 73,000 times above that considered safe for public health protection.
Currently, the state standard for NDMA is 0.69 parts per trillion – an amount equivalent to less that half a teaspoon of the chemical in 500 Olympic sized swimming pools.Yet under the proposal, while the standard would remain unchanged, the level at which its presence would have to be reported would be raised to 50,000 parts per trillion.
In California and Massachusetts, by contrast, the states are closing drinking water wells contaminated with the substance where only the tiniest of fractions of the compound have been detected, at levels many thousands of times that below what Colorado will seek to cover up, if this proposal is not jerked due to public outcry.
The State of California has set a Notification Level for NDMA at 10 parts per trillion and a Public Health Goal of 3 parts per trillion.
In Colorado, the highly toxic and potent carcinogen now contaminates large land areas where the substance has been found at former rocket manufacturing, fuel test, mix and dumping sites around the state, including sites in Boulder, Adams, Jefferson and Arapahoe Counties. Alarmingly, each are upgradient of drinking water supplies in active use by parts of Front Range communities, serving tens of thousands of people. The proposal could have major public health consequences elsewhere around the state.
For years, Titan Missiles that would each be loaded with a W-53 nine megaton thermonuclear warhead were manufactured in Colorado at the Martin Marietta Aerospace plant (now Lockheed Martin) on a hillside above the South Platte River at the southwest edge of metro Denver. The missiles after being loaded with the warheads at the Lowry Air Force base in Denver would then be trucked to the Lowry Bombing Range southeast of Denver where they would be lowered into silos and readied for launch at the touch of a button.
At the Martin site, the missile engines were tested using the highly toxic liquid fuel blend, which then was illegally dumped or flushed downhill to public water supply sources below for decades, records show. The consequences were allegedly deadly for some little children consuming the contaminated water in the 1970’s and early 80’s, some medical experts concluded, against denials by Martin and the water purveyor who piped the polluted around various parts of the metro area, the Denver Water Board.
The Aerozine-50 fuel used at Martin had been mixed at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Commerce City, where NDMA also contaminates water flowing northwards toward Brighton.
NDMA also poisons water from the Beech/Raytheon site above Boulder, which drains downward to the Left Hand Reservoir, a water supply source for various parts of Boulder County at times.
NDMA in large volumes also contaminates the Lowry Landfill southeast of Denver, atop three regional aquifer systems.
Further, NDMA is also a byproduct of wastewater treatment, so its presence in water downgradientof sewage plants in the state poses still further concerns, especially for municipalities who draw their water from below such discharge points.
At the Lockheed Martin/U.S. Air Force installation, state officials in November said they were also “in negotiations” with the U.S. Air Force to allow them to ignore the state’s health-based standards for the Lockheed Martin site in a state-mandated clean-up. Studies show an entire underground geological formation is saturated with the poison, a virtually permanent channel for the NDMA pollutant to impact the South Platte River and the adjacent Chatfield Reservoir below, now being used as a public drinking water source for several parts of Metro Denver.
Which water districts does this affect?
RMPJC's Nuclear Nexus Project has been conducting a review of this in recent months of a number of NDMA contaminated sites throughout the state, many directly above active public water supply sources, and posing potent potential cancer risks.
- The Left Hand Water District, which serves rural Boulder and Weld County, including Erie, Longmont and Niwot, and parts of Boulder. The Left Hand Reservoir is part of this system's water supply, and is in the watershed drainage area of the former Beech/Raytheon site northwest of Boulder (where there's now a McGuckins Hardware warehouse.).
- While the EPA claims there has been no impact to the Left Hand Reservoir from this former fuel blending site, documents obtained from the Boulder County Health Department prove there has in fact been a history of contamination impact. A sample of water taken from the reservoir in the the late 1990's had high levels of hydrazine in it, the parent compound of NDMA, records show.
- Denver Water, which uses Chatfield Reservoir, most recently stating "in emergency situations," though contradictory statements make this uncertain, and Denver Water has refused to provide documents regarding its specific history of use of Chatfield Reservoir water, citing "Homeland Security"
- Englewood Water, which which moves water from Chatfield Reservoir downgradient of Lockheed Martin to McLellan Reservoir, Englewood's water storage facility in the south metro area
- Aurora Water, which pipes water from the South Platte River/Chatfield area for storage in the Aurora Reservoir on the Lowry Bombing Range. Last year, Aurora hired a company to build a multi-million dollar system to treat their water with ultraviolet light. The same company had installed its system at sites in California with the purpose of lowering NDMA levels for water districts contaminated with the substance.
- Centennial Water District, which uses Chatfield Reservoir vicinity water to recharge its groundwater wells, pumping surface water into the aquifer to supplement its system of groundwater wells.
Furthermore, there's talk of expanding the use of Chatfield water. Water providers and users participating in the Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project include: the City of Englewood, the cities of Aurora and Brighton, the Western Mutual Ditch Company, the City and County of Denver, Denver Water, the South Metro Water Supply Authority, the Parker and Centennial Water and Sanitation Districts, the Town of Castle Rock, Roxborough Metro District, Castle Pines North Metro District, Castle Pines Metro District, Hock Hocking, LLC; Perry Park Country Club, Colorado State Parks, Denver Botanical Gardens, and Mt. Carbon Metro District.
Under such an alarming scenario, citizens should expect the most protective action by our state health officials, but the reverse appears to be the case with this proposal. Those paid from our taxpayer dollars to protect public health at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) appear to be protecting the polluters, instead. The state’s Water Quality Control Division, which has concocted the plan with influence by key polluters, seems to be attempting an end run around the tough NDMA standard designed to protect public health. If successful, the measure could mean that a sample of someone’s water could be polluted by NDMA at 49,999 parts per trillion, enough to have caused a widespread public health crisis, yet be masked as a “non-detect” by the testing lab, unbeknownst to the party seeking the assurance about their water’s quality and safety.
The question must be asked: Does Governor Ritter’s health department think Colorado citizens are 73,000 times less susceptible to the cancer-causing potency of this toxic rocket fuel compound than the citizens of California or Massachusetts? Or are our state’s regulators simply 73,000 times more susceptible to polluters’ undue influence in setting policiesto protect polluters from their environmental liabilities, while putting citizens of this state at risk?
This could be the most important act of cancer prevention in the state at this time. Citizens must contact Governor Bill Ritter and urge that his CDPHE appointee, Jim Martin, pull this outrageous proposal under his direction, and support maximum clean-up at NDMA contaminated sites for protection of Colorado’s limited water sources and public health.
At RMPJC’s request, a CDPHE public comment period slated to end this past New Year’s eve was extended to January 15th, 2008.If you do not want to risk children here being born with neuroblastoma or develop kidney cancers before they make it to the first grade, join in vigorously opposing this proposal and advocate the strongest protections for the quality of Colorado’s water supplies.
Contact Governor Ritter about this. Tell him that Colorado's citizens demand the same protection from this cancer-causing toxic poison that citizens in California are getting, and to protect the quality of Colorado's precious water sources.
You can write to him on-line at this link.
Bill Ritter, Governor
136 State Capitol
Denver, CO 80203-1792
Also send a copy of your comments to:
Dave Akers, Colorado Water Quality Control Division
Update: The RMPJC submitted comments on this proposal on January 15th. They can be read in the attached file, below.
Adrienne Anderson served on the faculty at CU Boulder and for over a decade taught highly ranked courses on environmental ethics, environmental justice, and has researched water contamination problems throughout Colorado and other parts of the western U.S. since 1983, most in the Denver metropolitan area. Anderson coordinated RMPJC’s new “Nuclear Nexus Project, Working to End the Local Hazards and the Global Threat" and established RMPJC's "Safe Water" project. She continues to support RMPJC on joint projects where labor and neighbors can unite for safer workplaces, communities and the environment.
Copyright: Do not reprint or link to this article without permission of the author
January 9, 2009; EPA: Rocket
January 9, 2009; EPA: Rocket Fuel Contaminant Safe For Nation's Drinking Water .... to include a more specific warning: "This water may cause cancer or birth defects.” ... If vegetables irrigated with Colorado River water are in fact ... 4 May 2007 ... Jacobson believes that “flex-fuel cars replacing current gasoline ... This probably means that cancer rates for E85 are no different to ... finreviewer.com Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104. Fueling Cancer Cell Growth. NANCY DUMONT, YONGPING G. CRAWFORD, ... The single most important action citizens can take toward preventing cancer in Colorado is to STOP a current plan of the Colorado Department of Public ... fundscons.com Cancer cells react to different types of foods with some types fueling the spread of cancer and others .... Colorado State University Ft. Collins, CO, USA ... Colorado Right to Life Displays Abortion / Breast Cancer Banner ... Study: Abortion Fueling Cancer Epidemic. Newsletter - December 5, 2007 ... finadviserweblog.com Most perchlorate plumes in the United States, including the Colorado River, ... The rocket fuel component, perchlorate, has been found in baby formulas, ... Denver Colorado's leading cancer treatment medical center that is dedicated ... from personal cancer memoirs to expert nutritional guides about fueling your ... Fuel Cycle Facility Locations · Uranium Recovery Locations ... For example, people residing in Colorado are exposed to more natural radiation than residents .... The likelihood of cancer occurring after radiation exposure is about five ... 235160107
Peace be upon you
Perchlorate - Senator Feinstein - Rocket Fuel Pollution - NAS - EPA
17,000 potentially harmful chemicals kept secret under obscure law | Raw Story