Don’t Put a Monsanto Hire in Charge of Chemical Safety!

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Michael Dourson

UPDATE: On December 14, 2017, Michael Dourson withdrew his nomination for the EPA's Director of Chemical Safety following public outcry over his past work on behalf of chemical companies. More than 11,000 OCA supporters sent emails to their Senators objecting to Dourson's nomination. Thank you! Following is the alert we sent out the day before Dourson withdrew.

Who does Trump want to become the country’s top regulator of toxic chemicals?

Michael Dourson, a guy who previously ran a consulting company that defended toxic chemicals on behalf of companies like Monsanto, Dow Chemical, DuPont—even the Koch Industries.

TAKE ACTION: Don’t Put a Monsanto Hire in Charge of Chemical Safety!

When companies like Monsanto or DowDuPont fear the public is getting wise to the dangers of their toxins, they turn to “scientists” who are willing to manufacture their own science to help corporations hide the ugly truth. 

Michael Dourson is one of the most shameless of these hired guns when it comes to sacrificing public health in favor or protecting corporate profits.

According to an Associated Press review of financial records and Dourson’s published work, Dourson has taken money from Monsanto to dispute evidence that glyphosate is a carcinogen, and from Dow to argue that chlorpyrifos is not a neurotoxin. 

Dourson even argued that kids are less sensitive to toxins! 

But the scandal that made Dourson infamous—and could derail his confirmation—is his role in hiding the truth about “Teflon toxins,”  which are perfluorinated chemicals created by DuPont for use in hundreds of products from non-stick cookware to firefighting foam.

DuPont released nearly 2.5 million pounds of a Teflon toxin known as C8 (Perfluorooctanoic—PFOA—acid) from its Washington Works factory in Parkersburg, West Virginia, into the Ohio River Valley between 1948 and 2003. 

DuPont knew PFOA was sickening the 3,000 people who worked at its factory and the 70,000 people who drank the PFOA-polluted water in the area. Since the 1950s, the company had been monitoring the health problems of laboratory animals exposed to PFOA, as well as that of its own workers. (In 1981, two out of seven pregnant workers tracked in an internal monitoring program gave birth to children with disfiguring birth defects, prompting DuPont to remove female employees from the Teflon division.)

DuPont even conducted human experiments where they asked volunteers to smoke cigarettes laced with PFOA and then recorded how they became “noticeably ill.”

Peer-reviewed epidemiological studies that were part of a settlement agreement in legal actions against DuPont confirmed the toxicity of PFOA. The C8 Science Panel that conducted these studies concluded that PFOA causes ulcerative colitis, pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, testicular cancer and kidney cancer.

Today we have Dourson to thank for this: PFOA is in the bloodstream of 99.7 percent of Americans. Because PFOA and other PFCs are found in drinking water all over the country. 

Dourson’s role in DuPont’s cover-up was to help the company avoid liability for water cleanup and PFOA-induced diseases. He did this by convincing state regulators to set PFOA safety levels above the levels commonly found in drinking water. And he helped convince the EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention—the very office he’s now been nominated to direct—to refuse to regulate PFOA at all.

A DuPont executive praised Dourson as having the "ability to assemble a 'package' and then sell this to the EPA, or whomever we desired." 

North Carolina’s two Republican Senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, came out against Dourson because DuPont and its spinoff, Chemours, have dumped PFOA, and at least 1 million pounds of a PFC known as GenX, into the Cape Fear River, a source of drinking water for more than 250,000 people in their state.

In a move likely intended to remove Burr and Tillis’ opposition, the EPA just announced actions addressing PFCs—without actually regulating them. 

We need Burr and Tillis to hold the line against Dourson. Plus we need one more Republican to oppose him.

Putting Dourson in charge of regulating toxic chemicals would be the same as letting Monsanto and DowDuPont regulate themselves. As retired Marine Jerry Ensminger puts it, it “would be like putting an arsonist in charge of the fire department.”

TAKE ACTION: Don’t Put a Monsanto Hire in Charge of Chemical Safety!


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