Eleven major chemical makers agree to health tests; some refuse

Two-thirds of high-production chemicals do not have healthy effects.

provided by the Environmental Defense Fund


n paid advertising in USA Today, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) last month identified eleven major U.S. chemical manufacturing companies that have agreed to bypass regulatory delays and accept direct responsibility for health screening tests on their top-volume chemicals.

The newspaper ads, under the headline "Santa Isn't The Only One Making Two Lists," also identified by name six U.S. companies that have expressly declined.

Four months ago, EDF Executive Director Fred Krupp invited the CEOs of the top 100 chemical manufacturing companies in the United States to complete basic health screening tests on their high-volume chemicals by January 1, 2000. "The public has a right to look directly to you to provide basic safety information about your own chemicals," Krupp wrote on July 29, 1997. His letter noted that laws, regulations and voluntary industry efforts to test chemicals over the last 20 years had produced "so little visible progress" that "a direct, time-specific commitment by each company itself . . . is the only reasonable course left."

Krupp's invitation followed a landmark EDF study which documented that more than 2/3 of these high-production-volume chemicals in the United States do not have even a preliminary set of health-effects test results in the public record. There are approximately 3,000 chemicals in the high-production-volume category in the United States (more than 1 million lbs./yr. produced or sold, for each chemical). A majority of the 80 companies responding agreed that more testing and public disclosure were needed.

"The fact that eleven major companies have quickly stepped up to take responsibility for testing their own chemicals is encouraging," said David Roe, EDF senior attorney. "They aren't hiding behind the excuses of the past, and they recognize that the public shouldn't be kept in the dark any longer. This is leadership that the rest of the chemical industry has no excuse not to follow."

Through its "3000 by 2000" Project, EDF plans to keep the public informed as more chemical companies decide whether to take responsibility for missing test data. "We expect the message to sharpen as time goes on," Roe said, "and we will keep to our year 2000 deadline." EDF is in active discussions with a number of companies over their plans and, at the invitation of the Chemical Manufacturers Association, is also discussing technical issues with CMA to facilitate more companies' direct acceptance of testing responsibilities. "So far we've found mostly open minds," Roe said, noting that only six companies expressly declined Krupp's invitation, claiming that existing efforts were already satisfactory.

"Your . . . initiative has already focused significantly more attention on these issues," wrote Donald W. Griffin, Chairman and CEO of Olin Corporation, in response to Krupp's invitation. "It will result in accelerating the development of additional data where needed and will improve the availability of information to the public." Griffin stated: "we at Olin Corporation are ready to participate . . . ."

The Environmental Defense Fund, a leading, national, NY-based nonprofit organization, represents 300,000 members. EDF links science, economics and law to create innovative,