Friday, March 19, 2010

Why BPA and Air Toxics are linked

Our friend at USA Today, Blake Morrison, has just published an article covering the Government Accountability Office's (GAO) damning report on chemical policies released this past week.  The report was an assessment of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) performance over the past decade in regards to safeguarding our children from toxic chemicals.  Morrison reports: "Top officials routinely ignored scores of recommendations by the agency's own children's health advisory committee."  And the article goes on to quote Ted Schettler, science director for the advocacy group Science and Environmental Health Network, who has served on EPA and National Academy of Sciences advisory committees: the problems "are setting the stage for an overwhelming wave of disease and the coming decades."  Of particular concern, Morrison notes: "the lack of information about thousands of chemicals and how they interact with each other."

Which brings me to the toxic bisphenol or BPA.  Oregon's failure to pass a bill to ban BPA in baby bottles seems like a very sad indicator of the political will in this state.  As I reported in an earlier blog,  Jon Isaacs of OLCV said of this bill:  "I don't think it's possible for a public health issue to be any less controversial and straightforward to Oregonians than keeping toxic chemicals out of food containers intended for babies." But instead of joining the ranks of Maryland, Washington, and Wisconsin -states who all figured out that we need to act faster on information that the FDA and others have now- Oregon legislators split 15 - 15--and a tie means a loss.

What to do now?  Oregon Environmental Council has vowed the fight over BPA is not over.  And I would implore that we consider the BPA fight closely linked to the air toxics fight.  This isn't a niche issue, this is a chemical used ubiquitously: plastic bottles, baby bottles, nearly all canned goods.  Consumer Reports and Environmental Working Group each issued extensive studies of the hazards of BPA late last year. And this issue is about the broader issue of chemical reform and the proliferation of industrial chemicals into our air, our food chain and our environment.  We need to raise our voices and let our legislators know we expect Oregon to be at the front of this movement.


  1. I was surprised that you make no mention of the fact that Monica Russell (DEQ) and I went to the tank farm on March 2nd to follow up the many complaints about raw fuel smells. Monica reported to DEQ that we had found the odors at the tank farm. We both agreed that the raw fuel smells we found there that day were sufficient to account for the neighbors' complaints, given the right wind direction.
    Cory Ann Wind (DEQ) made no mention of this in her account of all DEQ's many attempts to find the odor. This does not surprise me, but I am surprised that you do not mention it either? Let's get the word out - we do have the source. Now let's get ready for the permit hearing!
    Sharon Genasci, Chair, NWDA Health & Environment Committee

  2. Hello Sharon,

    Thanks for the note. Yes, I agree we need to keep the pressure on DEQ to investigate and account for these odors.