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June 4, 2013Senator Lautenberg’s Heroic Stand on Toxic Chemicals Protection; Safe Chemicals Act represents true reform for broken system

Contact: Stephenie Hendricks, (415) 258-9151,

(Washington, DC) With the passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey), the environmental health community mourns the death of the first Senate champion for comprehensive health protections in toxic chemical reform.  

In 2010, Senator Lautenberg authored a comprehensive overhaul of the seriously flawed Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) of 1976.

His vision for the future prioritized and protected those most harmed by toxic chemicals -- people living in “hot spots” or “sacrifice zones” -- from exposure. The worst chemicals were targeted for restriction first, with specific deadlines for regulatory action. States were able to continue to act to protect their own residents, and the United States would have been empowered to join the over 170 other countries to ban chemicals globally under the Stockholm Convention for Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Richard Moore Albuquerque, New Mexico, Co-Coordinator with the Environmental Justice and Health Alliance, comments: “Senator Lautenberg took a courageous stand early on to protect our most impacted communities. We pledge to fight for his dream of a healthy world for children.”

“Senator Lautenberg will be remembered in Louisiana as a fighter for environmental justice.  He made the protection of communities exposed to toxic chemicals a priority in the Safe Chemicals Act, a bill that pushed against the tide of anti-environmental policies,” comments Monique Harden, Esq., Co-Director and Attorney, Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, Monique Harden.”

“Senator Lautenberg’s core commitment was to chemicals policy that protects people and communities in states across the entire nation,” says Kathy Curtis, LPN, Executive Director of Clean & Healthy New York. “Our condolences go out to his loved ones on this sad day. We will hold true to his vision for environmental health and justice.”
“Senator Lautenberg was well aware of the growing body of evidence that learning disabilities, lowered IQ, infertility, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer and other diseases of environmental origin are linked to our failure to prevent exposures to unregulated chemicals” comments Ana Mascareñas from Physicians for Social Responsibility - Los Angeles. “We pledge to continue working to rid our environment of these chemicals to ensure Senator Lautenberg’s legacy.”

Katie Huffling, RN, MS, CNM, from Alliance of Nurses for a Healthy Environment, “The Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments was saddened to hear of the passing of Senator Lautenberg. Today we have lost a great environmental health champion and a tireless leader in reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act. Senator Lautenberg’s legacy of protecting the health of our children and those most vulnerable to the harmful effects of toxic chemicals is a strong one. He will be missed.”

“From pesticides to flame retardants, modern science is demonstrating links between chemical exposures and a person’s neurological health,” said Eric Uram, Executive Director of SafeMinds. “Some of these occur during critical development windows even before birth. The cost in emotional and psychological suffering, along with the financial burdens from these impacts is enormous. We need chemical reform that clearly addresses the chemicals most likely to impact our health and ability to succeed in life. Seeing firsthand what happened in New Jersey, Senator Lautenberg recognized this and pioneered policies to put health, including neurological health, before chemical company profits. This is a legacy that needs to endure.”

“As a New Jersey native, I am deeply saddened by the passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg. For decades, he was an excellent representative of our great state and a fierce champion for children’s health. We will miss his leadership on innovative ways to protect children and families from chemical health threats,” said Ansje Miller from Center for Environmental Health

“Senator Lautenberg worked to enact a federal policy that is at least as strong as the chemical regulations in the European Union and Canada,” says Bev Thorpe from Clean Production Action. “Senator Lautenberg encouraged support for innovation in sustainable chemistry and ways for businesses to identify safer chemicals to meet escalating buyer demand.”

“Long before the 9/11 attacks, Senator Lautenberg championed preventing chemical disasters. His first success was the Bhopal amendment to the 1990 Clean Air Act.  Gov. Whitman unsuccessfully tried to use that amendment law following 9/11 when she ran the EPA. Since 9/11 Senator Lautenberg tirelessly introduced legislation in 2010, 2011 and 2013 to prevent chemical disasters in the event of terrorist attacks. It's a shame that he didn't live to see his policies implemented, especially after all the attention these hazards have gotten following  the deadly April 17th tragedy in West, Texas.  His unwavering leadership on the environment will be sorely missed," said Rick Hind, Legislative Director of Greenpeace.

Available for Comment

Kathleen A. Curtis, LPN; Executive Director, Clean & Healthy New York; Former Policy Director, Clean New York, a project of Women's Voices for the Earth; Co-Coordinator, Workgroup for Public Policy Reform, Coming Clean; (518) 355-6202, Kathy can address efforts in New York state, the importance of states to be able to have their own strong chemicals policies, and can talk about national work to reform TSCA and chemical regulations for safer chemicals in general.   

Dorothy Felix; Mossville Environmental Action Now; (337) 882-8078, Dorothy can tell about how Senator Vitter’s own state of Louisiana has among the highest cancer rates in the nation from chemical exposures and unprotected communities.  

Katie Huffling, RN, MS, CNM; Director of Programs, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments; Co-Coordinator, Workgroup for Public Policy Reform, Coming Clean; (240) 753-3729, Katie can address nurses’ involvement in national work on safer chemicals and specifically chemical impacts to the health of women and infants, and the de facto "gag order" on nurses and doctors in the CSIA.

Rick Hind; Legislative Director, Greenpeace; (202) 319-2445, Rick is an expert on chemical policy and how weak regulations contributed to the tragedies in West, Texas and elsewhere in communities impacted by chemical disasters.

Ana Mascareñas; Policy & Communications Coordinator, Physicians for Social Responsibility - Los Angeles ; (213) 689-9170, Ana can address the de facto “gag order” on health care providers to prevent their public disclosure of concerns about the health impacts from chemicals on their patients and others.

Ansje Miller; Eastern States Director, Center for Environmental Health; (212) 689-6999. Ansje can address the potential chilling effect of CSIA on California’s progressive policies related to chemicals.

Pam Miller; Founder and Executive Director, Alaska Community Action on Toxics; (907) 222-7714, Pam can address the drift of POPs chemicals from lower hemispheres, putting Indigenous peoples in the Arctic at great risk for illness from chemical contaminants and can also address the several hundred toxic waste dump sites, now leaking chemicals due to global warming, and contaminating water, soil and air near communities. 

Vi Waghiyi; Environmental Health and Justice Program Director, Alaska Community Action on Toxics; (907) 222-7714 . Vi can speak to the shocking chemical test results of the St. Lawrence Island, Alaska traditional foods and human health bio-monitoring results of Alaska native people.

Richard Moore; Los Jardines Institute; Co-Chair, Environmental Justice and Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform; (505) 301-0276, Richard can discuss the failure of the CSIA to include so called “hot spots,” and the health impacts on workers and communities from chemicals exposure.

Michele Roberts; Co-Coordinator, Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform; (202) 704-7593, Michele can discuss the problem with removing so-called “hot spots” protection from chemical reform legislation and also tell about the issues in Mossville, Louisiana, and elsewhere where people are pointing to chemicals exposure as their source of their illnesses.

Jamie Silberberger; Director of Programs and Policy, Women's Voices for the Earth; (406) 543-3747, Jamie can address how chemicals regulatory failure has contributed to toxic chemicals in products we use every day. 

Beverley Thorpe; Consulting, Co-Director, Clean Production Action; Co-Coordinator, Workgroup for Safe Markets, Coming Clean; Bev can address the comparison of U.S. chemicals policy with the policies in Canada and the European Union, and tools that help businesses identify safer chemicals for their products. 

Eric Uram; SafeMinds; (608) 233-9022, Eric can address the proliferation of neurotoxic chemicals in our environment and corresponding rising rates of neurodevelopmental health impacts such as autism, learning disabilities and more.


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