For Immediate Release                                       For More Information Contact:

April 17, 2003                                                    Monica Rohde, 703-237-2249, ext.19





National Coalition To Push For State Phase Out Policies



(Washington, DC) – New polling data released today in 12 states shows that nearly two out of three voters in states in different regions of the U.S. are highly concerned about the unique dangers posed by persistent toxic chemicals in our air, water, land and food.  As a result of this concern, an overwhelming majority of more than eighty percent of those polled support a comprehensive policy to phase out such chemicals and replace them with safer alternatives.  This data is the result of surveys of 1,200 voters in Maine, Michigan and Washington sponsored by the Alliance for Safe Alternatives, a national partnership to eliminate persistent toxic chemicals.


The polls represent one of the first comprehensive studies of voter opinion on persistent toxic chemicals.  Among the key findings of the survey were the following:


Nearly half of those polled said that toxic chemicals in land, air, water and food represented an “extremely” or “very serious” problem in their state;

After hearing a description of the factors that distinguish persistent toxic chemicals from other toxics, two out of three voters indicated that they were “extremely” or “very concerned” about the problems posed by such chemicals;

More than three-quarters of voters mistakenly believe that chemical companies are already required to provide information about the health impacts of the chemicals they create, and a majority mistakenly believe that the government conducts safety tests on chemicals used in all major consumer products; and

More than four out of five voters in each state said they supported a proposal to phase out persistent toxic chemicals, replace them with safer alternatives, and clean up the contamination they have caused.


This information comes not long after the release of the Centers for Disease Control's second National Report on Human Exposure to Toxic Chemicals that shows the levels 116 dangerous chemicals in the bodies of the American people. The government, however, does not require health studies for new industrial chemicals unless they will be added to food.  Health tests are not required for chemicals used in cosmetics, toys, clothing, carpets or construction materials. 


"Unfortunately, the federal government is not providing the appropriate safeguards against these dangerous chemicals,” says Lois Gibbs, Executive Director and Founder of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice.  "These decision makers would like us to believe that they are protecting the health of the American people, but in fact they are protecting the profits of the chemical companies. 


“A number of the safer alternatives are already available and could easily replace persistent toxic chemicals, says Monica Rohde, Coordinator of the Alliance for Safe Alternatives.  “Using these safer alternatives would have minimal costs and great benefits for public health.”


The other good news is that levels of some of these dangerous chemicals, such as dioxin, have declined in the environment over the last decade, primarily due to the coordinated efforts of communities to block, shut down and clean up sources of these chemicals.  In addition, these groups have fought and continue to fight for stronger regulations to protect their communities.


“In Washington State, we have a comprehensive state-wide policy to phase out 29 persistent chemicals and push for safer alternatives,” says Gregg Small, Executive Director for the Washington Toxics Coalition.  “Decision makers in Washington State have listened to their voters and are moving in the right direction to protect them. Lawmakers in other states should follow our state's lead.”


In the absence of the EPA's Dioxin Reassessment and subsequent federal regulations, activists have turned their focus on getting strong state wide policies.  Three examples are Washington State, Massachusetts and Maine.  For instance, the Maine legislature will consider three bills this spring to address public health concerns related to persistent toxic chemicals.  The bills would phase out mercury in consumer products, arsenic in pressure treated wood and a range of hazardous chemicals and PVC plastic used in computers and other electronics.
 “The chemical industry has ignored the public’s clear desire for safer alternatives, and has continued to use these highly dangerous toxic chemicals,” said Michael Belliveau, executive director of the
Environmental Health Strategy Center based in Portland, Maine.  "Fortunately, state policy makers recognize the public support for phasing out persistent toxic chemicals whenever safer alternatives are available."


In December 2002, 38 Massachusetts legislators have co-sponsored a bill to create a comprehensive program to replace toxic chemicals with safer alternatives, beginning with ten priority chemicals.


“A broad coalition is backing this bill,” states Lee Ketelsen, New England Director of Clean Water Action. “Doctors, nurses, clergy, unions, people with cancer or asthma, community activists, scientists- people from all walks of life have united behind the common sense idea that if a company can use a safer alternative for the same purpose as a toxic chemical, they should be required to do so.”


Today groups in twelve states participated in this national media event as part of the Launch of the Alliance for Safe Alternatives.  The Alliance, which is a project of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, is a national partnership that works to eliminate persistent toxic chemicals and promote safe, practical and cost effective alternatives.

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Stowe, PA 19464

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