Are Chemical Companies Hiding Toxic Evidence?

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Ever wonder what kinds of chemicals make their way into your bloodstream? Good luck finding out. According to a new investigation by the Environmental Working Group, US chemical companies aren’t reporting studies on levels of toxic pollutants in people’s bodies—and the EPA is letting them get away with it.

Under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, the EPA can make companies submit health and safetly reports and notify the government if they come across evidence that chemicals could be putting people at risk. But the EWG suspects that the agency hasn’t been exercising this power: When researchers searched public EPA databases containing more than 50,000 industry-sponsored health studies, they found only “a scant number” about chemical exposures, and even fewer on kids’ exposures.

In a press release, the EWG offered a blueprint for future action by acknowledging one instance in which the EPA did crack down on a chemical company. In 2004, it fined DuPont $16.5 million after the company hid evidence that workers at a West Virginia plant had been exposed to perfluorooctanoic acid, a chemical that has been linked to birth defects.

Academics and government scientists routinely conduct various biomonitoring tests because of these sorts of risks. That prompted EWG president Ken Cook, in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (PDF), to ask: “Logically, the chemical industry should be conducting the same basic studies to understand the safety of its chemicals for the public. And if not, why not?”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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