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Letter to EPA on Dioxin Assessment

The Honorable Lisa P. Jackson
Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Dear EPA Administrator Jackson:

The Dioxin Reassessment document is extremely important to the health of the American people and we applaud your efforts to bring this long delayed process to closure. 

We are writing to strongly urge you to finalize the non-cancer dioxin IRIS assessment by the end of January, and expeditiously release the cancer dioxin IRIS assessment as you have pledged to do.

Physicians for Social Responsibility works to prevent nuclear war and proliferation and to slow, stop and reverse global warming and toxic degradation of the environment. As health professionals, we consider environmental pollution a grave and preventable assault on public health. Dioxin is a prime example of the importance of our work: the scientific community agrees that this persistent compound is harmful, yet because of our regulatory framework, people are inadequately protected from its effects.

In addition to its carcinogenic properties, dioxin exposure has been linked to reproductive, developmental, immunological, and endocrine effects in people. However, efforts by EPA to assess the risks of dioxin have been delayed time and time again. A strong coalition of industries responsible for generating dioxins as a by-product of production and disposal has successfully stalled the completion of this health assessment report. While EPA works on the Dioxin Reassessment, people in communities across the country continue to be exposed to this highly toxic chemical. We are very concerned that industry is attempting to stall the release of this important report yet again.

On August 29, 2011, EPA announced its final plan for completing the Dioxin Reassessment. EPA committed to completing the non-cancer portion of the reanalysis and posting it to the IRIS database by the end of January 2012 and to then complete the cancer portion of the reanalysis “as quickly as possible.” EPA stated that once the Agency completes both the non-cancer and cancer portions of the Reanalysis, the Dioxin Reassessment would be considered final.

We are dismayed that the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and other industry trade associations are once again pressuring EPA to further delay the release of this important document. We believe the American public has a right to know about the health consequences of exposure to dioxin, and EPA needs to take steps to protect American families from this harmful class of chemicals.

We urge you to meet your schedule of finalizing the non-cancer portion of the dioxin reanalysis by the end of this January and to finalize the cancer portion as quickly as possible thereafter, as you have pledged to do. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter, and for your commitment to protecting America’s health and environment.

Sincerely,

Catherine Thomasson MD
Executive Director
Physicians for Social Responsibility

cc: Cass Sunstein, Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs; Nancy Sutley, Chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ); Paul Anastas, Assistant Administrator, Office of Research and Development, EPA; Rebecca Clark, Acting Director, National Center for Environmental Assessment

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