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newsies, 16-22 aug '97
*U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Conference
on Preventable Causes of Cancer in Children, September
15-16, 1997, Sheraton National Hotel, Arlington, VA.*
(Conference). Conference will explore why the number of
new cancer cases among U.S. children continues to rise,
focusing on potential role of environmental toxins.
Scientific presentations will examine current trends in
childhood cancer; parental employment and childhood
cancer; environment and cancer; and what scientists
don't know about chemical risks. Includes workshops on
risk factor identification, molecular markers of
exposure and susceptibility and measurement of exposure
to environmental agents. Conference is free. To
register, contact Conference Coordinator, Suite 500,
8601 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20901; phone (301)
589-5318; fax (301) 589-8487; email email@example.com.
"The Disaster That Wasn't [Editorials]." Washington Times, 22
August 97, A18.
The WT comments on Tulane University researchers' withdrawal
of their study of last year concerning environmental
endocrine disruptors. After quoting EPA [Assistant
Administrator] Lynn Goldman, EPA head Carol Browner, and
associate administrator for the agency's Office of
Pesticides, Pollution and Toxic Substances James Aidala,
they conclude with noting that the press also has been lax
about reporting the retraction. "Given the many accounts of
Earth's expected demise, isn't it news the world may survive
"Leak at Chemical Plant Keeps Residents Inside [National News
Briefs]." New York Times, 18 August 97, A14. "Chemical Plant
Leak Keeps People Indoors [American Scene]." Washington Times,
18 August 97, A6.
A hydrogen chloride gas leak occurred at Dow Corning
Corporation plant in Midland, Michigan, forcing nearby
residents to stay indoors.
TOXICS IN THE NEWS: ESTROGEN
"Scientists See Promise in New Estrogen Drug." Wall Street
Journal, 20 August 97, B10.
A new estrogen drug, developed at Duke University and Glaxo
Wellcome PLC may offer all the benefits of estrogen with
none of the harmful side effects. The new compound will
offer treatment for breast cancer, an all-purpose
estrogen-replacement pill that protects against heart
disease without making brittle bones or risking uterine or
endometrial cancer. Human testing is expected to begin soon.
Research conducted by Duke-Glaxo suggests estrogen works in
different ways in different cells.
"Estrogen After Menopause? A Tough Dilemma [Personal Health]."
New York Times, 20 August 97, C8.
Jane Brody looks at the pros and cons of estrogen therapy
and notes conflicting results. Women with coronary risk
factors are encouraged to take the hormone, but lifestyle
improvements, like exercise and dieting, should be tried
first. Brody suggests objections to estrogen based on fear
should be put to rest. Insulin is also not natural, she
says, but no one suggests people do without it.
"Another Enviro-Scare Debunked [Review & Outlook]." Wall Street
Journal, 20 August 97, A14.
Stephen Safe, a professor of toxicology at Texas A&M
University, discusses "one of the big health scares of the
'90s," the concern over environmental estrogens aka
xenoestrogens aka endocrine disruptors. He explores the
original cases (including "Our Stolen Future") plus new
studies that have failed to duplicate the original findings
that estrogens in the environment were disturbing the
development of wildlife and possibly humans. He concludes
by asking whether Congress is going to revisit the laws
(Safe Drinking Water Act and the Food Quality Protection Act
of 1996) that were promulgated in reaction to the concerns.
"The Press's Ignominious Role [Review & Outlook]." Wall Street
Journal, 20 August 97, A14.
Diane Katz, a Detroit News editorial writer, points out that
major newspapers have not covered the retraction of the
Tulane study published in _Science_ that formed the basis
for much of the "endocrine apocalypse" scare of 1996.
"Tulane Researchers Retract Findings on Pollutants' Risk.
University Begins Inquiry to `Assure That Proper Laboratory
Practices Were Followed'." Washington Post, 17 August 97, A15.
"Detroit, Michigan [Across the USA]." USA Today, 20 August 97,
A 20-year study found that PBB contamination, caused when
the fire retardant was accidently mixed with cow feed in the
1970s, has caused no health problems for state residents.
August 21, 1997
FROM GREENPEACE, Greenbase Project
<<< TOXICS >>>
2 Japan to belatedly address dioxin issue DATELINE: TOKYO, Aug.
21 Kyodo After more than a decade of foot-dragging and keeping its
head in the sand, the Japanese government is finally moving to
address the health hazard of dioxin -- a carcinogen that comes
3 Nicaraguan Toxic Residues to be Incinerated in Finland MANAGUA
(Aug. 20) XINHUA About 200 tons of DDT and heptachlorine toxic
residues will be shipped Thursday to the Ekokem company, Finland,
for incineration, sources from the Nicaraguan Ministry of
6 08/21 Toxic Fire ATKINS, Va. (AP) A fire at a warehouse filled
with plastics ent a plume of black, poisonous smoke skyward,
forcing uthorities to close a busy highway and evacuate a mountain
community. Six people sought treatment for smoke inhalation after
3 ENVIRONMENT: HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT HAZARDS LOOM SAN SALVADOR, (Aug.
20) IPS - Maria Hernendez, 32, her body racked by an asthmatic cough, says
she believes a proposed waste incinerator, to be built less than a mile
from her home would only increase her health problems. She is not alone.
4 Business Information Wire August 22, 1997 Health officials disagree with
Plastimet report HAMILTON (CP) _ Hamilton's top medical officer says the
fire marshal sent the ``wrong message'' by saying last month's fire
at a plastics recycling plant could result in long-term health
Enviro-Newsbrief August 22, 1997
The following is a daily update summarizing news of interest
to EPA staff. It includes information from current news sources:
newspapers, newsletters, and other publications. For more
information, contact the EPA Headquarters Information Resources
Center at (202) 260-5922, or e-mail LIBRARY-HQ.
**Viewpoints expressed in the following summaries do not
necessarily reflect EPA policy**
** ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS **
Tulane Withdraws Paper That Prompted Health Fears. The New York
Times, August 22, 1997, pA14. Tulane Retracts Report on Rise of
Estrogen. The Washington Times, August 22, 1997, p10.
A team of researchers from Tulane University withdrew a
study that found some pesticides, while essentially harmless
alone, might cause a devastating rise in estrogen hormones when
The report, published in June 1996, alarmed
environmentalists and affected federal legislation.
The study was withdrawn because the results could not be
reproduced, according to the lead researcher, John McLachlan.
When the report was initially published, Dr. Lynn Goldman,
chief of the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic
Substances at EPA called the findings "astonishing" and asked for
a new round of studies on the topic. Several industry and college
labs also began similar studies.
The concern that the study raised has now quietly died.
Other labs found no evidence of synergism. McLachlan withdrew the
study by writing a letter to the journal Science on July 25. "It
seems evident that there must have been a fundamental flaw in the
design of our original experiment," he said in the letter.
Liver Damage Linked to Leaking Refrigerants. The Washington Post,
August 22, 1997, pA8.
Two chemicals meant to be used as alternatives to
chlorofluorocarbons for refrigeration may be hazardous to human
health, according to a new study.
The British medical journal, The Lancet, this week reported
the first confirmed cases of liver damage among workers
accidentally exposed to HCFC-123 and HCFC-124.
Exposure to high levels of the chemicals had been linked to
tumors in rats and other lab animals, but the new research
provides evidence of toxic effects in humans.
"In view of the potentially widespread use of these
compounds, there is an urgent need to develop safer
alternatives," wrote the study's chief author, Perrine Hoet of
the Catholic University of Lovain in Brussels.
His research stemmed from a 1996 outbreak of liver disease
at a smelting facility in Belgium. Nine workers at the plant were
diagnosed as having acute hepatitis over a four month period.
Factory officials investigated and found that a plastic pipe
in the facilities air conditioning system had leaked exposing
workers to HCFC-123 and HCFC-124. No additional outbreaks were
reported after the pipe was fixed.
Hoet noted that the use of the coolants is projected to rise
in coming years and said that "very strict measures of
containment" should be implemented to prevent accidental
A fact sheet prepared by the EPA said that HCFC-123 is less
toxic than some of the ozone-depleting chemicals it is meant to
replace. The EPA fact sheet also describes HCFC-123 as a
"necessary transition refrigerant as the world phases out the
Decade-old Montreal Protocol Seen as Success, Work in Progress.
Daily Environment Report, August 22, 1997, ppAA-1-2.
"Fire at Warehouse Produces Toxic Smoke [Briefly: Virginia]."
Washington Times, 22 August 97, C9. "2,000 Evacuated After Fire
in Virginia [Around the Region]." Washington Post, 22 August 97,
About 2,000 people were kept out of their homes Thursday and
signs along Interstate 81 read "`Toxic fumes. Please do not
stop" as the fire at the Marley Moulding Manufacturing Co.
burned itself out. "The burning plastics gave off low
levels of cyanide gas that authorities determined was not
dangerous." Six people were treated for smoke inhalation
but no one was seriously injured. The cause of the fire is