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General Health : Government Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

EPA fires top toxicologist who wants to phase out fire retardant
By Ben Wasserman
Sep 22, 2008 - 3:26:58 PM

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MONDAY Sep 22, 2008 ( -- House Energy and Commerce Committee conducted a hearing on Sep 18 to investigate the possible role of the chemical industry in the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to fire a preeminent scientist on the fire retardant safety, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reported.


At the hearing, Dr. Deborah Rice, a top toxicologist for the state of Maine, who was fired as chair of an EPA advisory panel on evaluation of the toxic fire retardant called Deca.


Fire retardants have been widely used in many industrial and household products to prevent fire.   Animal and lab studies have suggested that these chemicals may affect children's brains and reproductive systems. The environmental health advocate did a study early only to find that children had 3 times the exposure to fire retardants than their mothers.


Deca has already been banned in Europe, but not in the US, due to its toxicity.


EWG said in a statement that documents it obtained in March 2008 showed "EPA removed Rice after Sharon Kneiss, Vice President of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), a Washington-based trade association with a $119 million annual budget, complained to George M. Gray, EPA Assistant Administrator for Research and Development, that Rice had testified before the Maine legislature supporting the phase-out Deca."


EPA also removed Rice's comments from the panel's final report that says EPA's standard did not sufficiently protect (public) health.


EWG said EPA keep scores of individuals who had financial ties to the chemical industry   on a number of advisory panels while firing Dr. Rice because the view on fire retardants she held is not in the best interest of the chemical industry.

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