Senior Public Health Correspondent
(May 28) – After years of allowing corporations to withhold vital safety information, the Environmental Protection Agency screamed “stop” on Thursday. In the Federal Register, the agency said it will no longer permit the obstruction of safety evaluations by allowing firms to hide behind age-old claims of business secrecy.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson had told Congress earlier this year that the heavily lobbied for “confidential business information” protection was keeping the agency’s risk assessors from obtaining vital health and safety data on chemical substances awaiting approval. Thousands of chemicals were not properly evaluated because of the withheld information, she told lawmakers.
The agency’s new stance has real-world implications.
Earlier today, AOL News published a story on scientists in the U.S., Canada, South America and elsewhere pleading with the EPA to not approve the use of an oil dispersant that contains unidentified and possibly untested nanoparticles.
The company, Green Earth Technologies, insists its product is safe for use in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and says federal law allows it to conceal information on the composition of the nanodispersant and precisely what nanoparticles it contains because those facts are confidential business information.
The EPA’s move means that protection may no longer exist, at least within that agency. Other federal safety agencies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Food and Drug Administration, apparently still allow the corporate obfuscation.
“Yesterday’s notice is the latest in a series of actions the new leadership at EPA has taken to make good on a much-neglected aspect of its mission,” wrote Richard Denison, senior scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund.
In announcing the new policy, the EPA said it took the action “to promote public understanding of potential risks by providing understandable, accessible and complete information on potential chemical risks to the broadest audience possible.”
A careful legal interpretation of the long maligned but vital Toxic Substance Control Act convinced the agency that it could provide more valuable information to the public by identifying data where information may have been claimed and treated as confidential in the past but is not and was not in fact entitled to confidentiality under the TSCA.
The EPA says it expects to begin reviews of confidentiality claims – both newly submitted and existing – on Aug. 25.
Political Action Committee – National Apartment Association (NAA) files Amicus Brief in mold case (two infant deaths in mold filled apt – Wasatch Prop Mgmt) citing US Chamber/ACOEM ‘litigation defense report’ to disclaim health effects of indoor mold & limit financial risk for industry
“Changes in construction methods have caused US buildings to become perfect petri dishes for mold and bacteria to flourish when water is added. Instead of warning the public and teaching physicians that the buildings were causing illness; in 2003 the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, a think-tank, and a workers comp physician trade organization mass marketed an unscientific nonsequitor to the courts to disclaim the adverse health effects to stave off liability for financial stakeholders of moldy buildings. Although publicly exposed many times over the years, the deceit lingers in US courts to this very day.” Sharon Noonan Kramer
Information about Riverstone Residential, the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, and the owners of Jefferson Lakes Apartments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana allowing tenants to be exposed to extreme amounts of toxins from molds by intentionally concealing evidence
Irrefutable evidence indicates that Riverstone Residential, Guarantee Service Team of Professionals, & plaintiffs’ attorney, J Arthur Smith III, must have agreed to exclude evidence that would have shown the owners of Jefferson Lakes Apartments & Riverstone Residential had knowledge of the severe MOLD INFESTATION at the complex before we moved in