Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Chemical Industry gets EPA Scientist Fired

There is no secret that the EPA has been under extreme scrutiny for its many actions or inactions over the past 8 years. The Bush administration proves over and over again that good science means little to nothing if it isn't scratching behind the ears of its trusted and well paid lobbyists. The latest controversy over a fired EPA scientist isn't proving any different.

Dr. Rice, who has been studying the effects of a type of brominated flame retardant called Deca, was recently fired after lobbyists from The American Chemical Council criticized her studies. She has spoken out on the findings of the EPA panel of scientists who are investigating the chemical.

I know that I love reading about the details of these chemicals (it helps me decipher industry rhetoric). Here is a little background info on deca.

Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) have many subsets, including polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs. There are three common commerical types, but two have been voluntarily phased out due to health and environmental concerns. The one that is still in use is called deca-bde. It exists in an ungodly number of home items. Including your tvs, couches and mattresses. One of the reasons it is so horrible is because it is an additive and leaks out of whatever product it is in. That's why the dust in our homes is so full of chemicals. It's also why you shouldn't carry around those plastic reusable water bottles.
States have started recognizing the dangers of BFRs. Maine's ban on deca-BDE goes into effect at the end of the year. A number of other states are also debating the same type of legislation.


So this story on deca isn't new. It is no longer surprising that scientists at the highest levels are asking for it to be taken out of products. The evidence is in, but the chemical industry is still living in some time warp where people didn't notice or didn't have access to the same type of information it does. Guess what Jack Gerard? The info is out and people know about it. And we all want chemicals that are harmful out of our baby bottles and mattresses and electronics. The good thing about science and industry is that when forced to it has always found a safer alternative.

Take a look at the ABC Nightly News website. It did an interesting article on Dr. Rice and the American Chemical Council's role in her firing.


No comments: