Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Hearing on:
April 25, 2012
“Mr. Chairman: Usually, I begin my statement by thanking you for having the Subcommittee examine a topic of importance and for inviting a slate of witnesses who bring a variety of perspectives and expertise to the subject at hand. I am sorry that I am unable to do that today…..Today’s hearing is very disappointing. Although the title indicates we are examining the process and result of the National Toxicology Program’s biennial production of the Report on Carcinogens, we are really examining the objections of one industry to the listing of one chemical. There is virtually no balance here today. Five of the six witnesses invited by the Majority are aligned closely with the styrene industry and the American Composite Manufacturers Association…… I would also expect us to bring other concerned voices into the room to ensure we have a complete picture of how the 12th Report on Carcinogens, the National Toxicology Program is developed and viewed by all interested parties….If we were going to fully examine the deep issues this hearing purports to tackle, I would have expected to hear from veterans groups, environmental justice groups, workers, and distinguished public health experts with intimate knowledge of the NTP and the RoC.No such experts were called by the Majority. To the degree there is any divergent voice to be heard today it is because of the Minority’s sense of obligation to try to provide some balance. I could have recommended witnesses such as retired Marine Corps Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger and Ms. Erin Brockovich who work with veterans and communities that have been harmed by chemical exposure and have fought for years to get toxicity information into the public policy arena; I could have recommended a fleet of distinguished science policy experts such as Dr. Phil Landrigan of Mt. Sinai Medical College, or you could stay within the beltway and invite Dr. Lynn Goldberg, Dean of the GWU School of Public Health and Dr. Jennifer Sass of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
At 10:00 am EST on April 25th in room 2318 of the Rayburn Building on DC’s Capitol Hill there is a joint meeting scheduled to take place by the Congressional Committee on Science, Space, & Technology, Subcommittee on Investigations & Oversight and the Congressional Committee on Small Business, Subcommittee on Healthcare & Technology.
The joint meeting is titled “How the Report on Carcinogens [sic (RoC)] Uses Science to Meet its Statutory Obligations, and its Impact on Small Business Jobs”.
The focus will be on industry’s desire to limit the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Toxicology Program (NTP) reporting to the public of chemicals that are determined to be carcinogens via its publishing of the RoC.
Presentation will be given by Dr. James S. Bus of Dow Chemical and Dr. Richard B. Belzer. In 2007, Drs Bus and Belzer published a paper, “The naphthalene state of the science symposium: objectives, organization, structure, and charge.” It is our understanding that this paper was presented at the industry sponsored conference in an attempt to discount NTP bioassay results on Naphthalene, which is the main ingredient in mothballs. It is the most abundant single component in coal tar.
It is our understanding that the cause of this joint Congressional meeting is largely industry being apparently upset about upgrading formaldehyde to “known to be carcinogenic to humans” while adding leukemia; and listing styrene as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”. The styrene industry organization [SIRC] sued the DHHS. With no apparent concerns for lost health and lives and the financial burden of cancer on society as a whole; their rationale is these listings being scientifically established and publicly known carcinogens by RoC causes loss of jobs and loss of sales in styrene industry.
According to the April 23rd, Veterans News article, Veterans Demand Truth On Cancer
“This hearing might as well be called ‘fact versus fiction’ and certainly has political agenda undertones with campaign money for the membership of the committee’s at stake. Just in Dioxin(s) alone no American, much less any Vietnam Veterans or the Vietnam people themselves, can possibly believe the chemical companies and their bottom line profit dollar. History demonstrates a complete lack of concern for environmental and human health.”
The Veteran author, Mr. Charles Kelly, goes on to state,
“Our national environmental and population health defense and well being has come down to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Institute of Health (IOM); or the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). I can with little reservation conclude after twenty years of research that the only one that tells the facts with empirical data and clear outcomes is the NIEHS.”
READ MORE of Charles Kelly’s article. Mr. Kelly is a Vietnam Veteran.
Dr. Jennifer Sass of the Natural Resourses Defense Council (NRDC), published in her blog at Switchboard, today
“The government is now under attack for listing chemicals that cause cancer. Apparently it’s bad for business. Keep in mind that chemicals that cause cancer will keep on doing so whether the government lists them or not. But, without getting listed, people, including workers, may not know to protect themselves. Isn’t killing workers also bad for business? It’s certainly a bad way to do business!….This week the House Committee on Science is hosting a hearing titled, ‘How the Report on Carcinogens Uses Science to Meet its Statutory Obligations, and its Impact on Small Business Jobs’….. In other words, it’s a Congressional hearing to amplify chemical industry talking points and grill government scientists. The chemical industry has long had the same position: the public’s right to know about toxic chemicals – both their effects, and their releases – will unnecessarily frighten the public, and lead to a push for use of safer chemicals, or non-chemical alternatives, which will result in a loss of jobs in the cancer-causing chemical sector….
The argument puts the interests of narrow segments of the chemical industry – such as formaldehyde and styrene manufacturers – ahead of public health, and ahead of a fully functioning market where information is available and consumers are able to make their choices based on that information. Obviously, that is not a very winning argument with the public, which is why the chemical industry and House Republicans are dressing it up as a supposed inquiry into the credibility of the process government scientists have used to reach the conclusion that formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen, and that styrene is ‘reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”
READ MORE of Dr. Sass’s blog.
Jeanne Rizzo, CEO of the Breast Cancer Funds writes to the Congressional leaders,
“On behalf of the Breast Cancer Fund and our 70,000 members nationwide, I write in strong support of the National Toxicology Program’s Report on Carcinogens. The National Toxicology Program (NTP), headquartered at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), produces the Report on Carcinogens to provide science-based information on the health hazards of cancer-causing substances. The information in the Report on Carcinogens serves a wide range of people and needs, providing objective and thorough scientific information that is used across the United Statesand around the world. We urge the Committee Members to endorse the Report’s conclusions and to continue to back, if not expand, this critical public health document moving forward.
The epidemic of cancer in the country has touched all of us. Breast cancer alone accounts for over 230,000 diagnoses and almost 40,000 deaths per year. True prevention is the only way to avoid the devastating impact of a cancer diagnosis on individuals and their families and friends. The Breast Cancer Fund’s mission is to prevent breast cancer by identifying and working to eliminate the environmental causes of the disease. As an organization that bases our public education and policy advocacy on a strong foundation of science, we rely heavily on the work of NTP and the Report on Carcinogens to inform ourselves and our members about chemicals that pose health hazards and how to prevent unnecessary exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.”
READ MORE of Ms. Rizzo’s letter.
Along with other speakers, Dr. Linda Birnbaum, Director of NIEHS & NTP, will be speaking at the joint Congressional hearing in support of the need for the continuance of NTP’s ROC and its scientific advancements that help to protect the public from known cancer causing agents in their environment.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP!!!!!
Please contact the members of these Congressional subcommittes and tell them to:
“Keep public health and safety foremost in your decision making processes in war or cancer. Do not let industry influences diminish the work of the NTP and the protection offered to the public by their Report on Carcinogens. This report was mandated by Congress in 1978 to be continually updated as science advances in its understanding of environmental causes of cancer, “
Congressional Committee on Science, Space, & Technology, Subcommittee on Investigations & Oversight Members
Paul Tonko, New York, Ranking Member
Zoe Lofgren, California
Brad Miller, North Carolina
Eddie Bernice Johnson,Texas (ex officio)
Paul Broun, Georgia, Chairman
James Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin
Sandy Adams, Florida
Randy Hultgren, Illinois
Larry Bucshon, Indiana
Dan Benishek, Missouri
Ralph M. Hall, Texas (ex officio)
Congressional Committee on Small Business, Subcommittee on Healthcare & Technology Members:
- Chairwoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC)
- Rep. Steve King (R-IA)
- Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC)
- Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO)
- Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA)
- Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL)
- Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY)
- Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Ranking Member
- Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI)
HISTORY OF THE MANDATED REPORT ON CARCENOGENS (RoC) BEGINNING IN 1978
The Secretary of Heath and Human Services (HHS) delegated responsibility for preparing the RoC to the NTP. According NTP website, it is an interagency program within HHS and is headquartered at the NIEHS of the National Institutes of Health. “Since its inception in 1978, the NTP has strived to improve its scientific review process for evaluating whether substances should be listed in the RoC. ”
The RoC was mandated by Congress in 1978 “in response to concerns from people within the United States regarding the relationship between their environment and cancer. It was mandated as part of the Public Health Service Act, (see Section 301(b)(4), as amended), that the Secretary, Health and Human Services (HHS), publish a biennial report. By amendment in 1993 under (42US Code 241) the requirement of a biennial report was replaced with an annual report in the introductory provisions.
Information provided to the public by the RoC includes:
- a list of all substances
- which either are known to be carcinogens or may reasonably be anticipated to be carcinogens and
- to which a significant number of persons residing in theUnited Statesare exposed;
- information concerning the nature of such exposure and the estimated number of persons exposed to such substances;
- a statement identifying
- each substance contained in the list under subparagraph (A) for which no effluent, ambient, or exposure standard has been established by a Federal agency, and
- for each effluent, ambient, or exposure standard established by a Federal agency with respect to a substance contained in the list under subparagraph (A), the extent to which, on the basis of available medical, scientific, or other data, such standard, and the implementation of such standard by the agency, decreases the risk to public health from exposure to the substance; and
- a description of
- each request received during the year involved
- from a Federal agency outside the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare for the Secretary, or
- from an entity within the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to any other entity within the Department, to conduct research into, or testing for, the carcinogenicity of substances or to provide information described in clause (ii) of subparagraph (C), and
- how the Secretary and each such other entity, respectively, have responded to each such request.
- each request received during the year involved