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Blumenthal, Udall, Chemical Exposure Victims and Advocates Speak Out Against Nomination of Toxicologist-for-Hire Michael Dourson to Head EPA Toxics Office

Dourson’s work as a flack for the chemical industry has included generating junk science to hide danger of second-hand cigarette smoke, the carcinogen PFOA, the pesticide chlorpyrifos, and chemicals in children’s toys

[WASHINGTON, DC] – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tom Udall (D-NM) held a press conference to expose the danger of confirming chemical industry propagandist Michael Dourson to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) office that serves as the nation’s chemical and pesticide watchdog. They were joined by several victims of chemical exposure, as well as the Connecticut-based CEO of a baby food company, and an expert who has exposed Dourson’s work for the chemical industry and how it was used to justify looser standards for dangerous substances. Today, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing to consider Dourson’s nomination.

“Michael Dourson has made a career of targeting chemical safety standards,” Blumenthal said. “It is absurd that he would be tasked with heading the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety. Consumers deserve a watchdog, not a lapdog who has spent decades producing junk science for Big Tobacco, pesticide, and chemical manufacturers.”

Michael Dourson “has made a career of creating junk science for industry. His work on chemicals like PFOA and TCE has been used to justify weak safety standards that put people’s health and safety at risk. Today, we have several families with us from Indiana, New York, Tennessee, Idaho, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Alaska. These families have lost loved ones — and their own health is at risk — because they have been exposed to those same dangerous chemicals. The families with us today are so worried, they have traveled across the country to tell their senators to oppose Dr. Dourson’s nomination,” Udall said at the press conference. “Michael Dourson’s confirmation hearing is tomorrow. And today, I’m calling on senators to say enough is enough. It shouldn’t matter what party you’re from. Installing a toxicologist-for-hire to run the EPA’s toxics bureau crosses the line.”

Video of the press conference is available here.

Udall and Blumenthal were joined at the press conference by: 

  • Michael Hickey, of New York, whose father worked at the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics plant where Teflon was manufactured and later died of kidney cancer. Michael is credited with discovering the PFOA contamination in Hoosick Falls.
  • 12-year-old Gwen Young, whose family moved to Hoosick Falls, N.Y., after the well water in their home in nearby Peterburgh was significantly contaminated with PFOA. Gwen’s PFOA levels were the highest tested in the community.
  • Stacie Davidson, of Indiana, whose stepson Zane has been undergoing treatment for cancer for three years now. The incidence of cancer in Johnson County is above the national average, and parents are concerned about the environmental factors, including chemicals like TCE, which may be causing these cancers.
  • Jerry Ensminger, of White Lake, N.C., whose daughter Janey died of leukemia connected to TCE and PCE contamination in the tap water at Camp Lejeune. In 2012, President Obama signed into law the Janey Ensminger Act, which ensures that the federal government will provide health care to families of veterans exposed to the contaminated water.
  • Shazi Visram, Weston, CT resident and founder and CEO of the Happy Family organic baby food company.
  • David Michaels, professor of environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, former assistant secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (2009-2017), and former assistant secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety and Health (1998-2001).
  • Trevor Schaefer, of Idaho, a childhood cancer survivor and leading advocate behind Trevor’s Law, legislation to document and track cancer clusters and pinpoint causes like environmental toxin exposure.