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EPA accuses chromium industry of withholding lung cancer study


The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) specifies under section 8e, that...
any person who manufactures, processes, or distributes in commerce a chemical substance or mixture and who obtains information which reasonably supports the conclusion that such substance or mixture presents a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment shall immediately inform the Administrator of such information unless such person has actual knowledge that the Administrator has been adequately informed of such information.

EPA complaint:

The September 2, 2010 notice alleges that Elementis Chromium  failed or refused to submit to EPA a study conducted for an industry trade group that showed evidence of excess lung cancer risk among workers in chromium production facilities. Exposed workers included those employed at Elementis Chromium’s plants in Castle Hayne, NC and Corpus Christi, TX.

EPA asserts that Elementis Chromium’s violation of TSCA 8(e) began in October 2002. Only after receiving a subpeona from EPA in August 2008 did the firm submit the study to the agency. In the current notice, EPA explains its authority for assessing a civil penalty (as much as $32,500 per day) and procedures for the company to request a formal hearing to contest the appropriateness of the penalty, and admit, deny or explain the allegations contained in the agency’s complaint.

This TSCA 8(e) allegation continues a long saga of the chromium industry’s efforts to obscure evidence about the metal’s carcinogenicity, partly been documented by scientists from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services in their report entitled "Selected science: an industry campaign to undermine an OSHA hexavalent chromium standard" published in 2006.

EPA's complaint against Elementis Chromium stays clear of unwritten professional codes and puts it in black and white:

EPA has reason to believe that Respondent failed to immediately inform the Administrator of EPA of substantial risk information it obtained in an epidemiological study...thereby committing an unlawful act...

The agency lays out in great detail the facts supporting their assertion that Elementis Chromium violated TSCA. The company's response is due to EPA within 30 days...

Related studies

David Michaels, Celeste Monforton, Peter Lurie, Selected science: an industry campaign to undermine an OSHA hexavalent chromium standard, Environmental Health, 5 (2006) 5. DOI: 10.1186/1476-069X-5-5 

Herman J. Gibb, Peter S.J. Lees, Paul F. Pinsky, Brian C. Rooney, Lung cancer among workers in chromium chemical production, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 38/2 (2000) 115–126. DOI: 10.1002/1097-0274(200008)38:2<115::AID-AJIM1>3.0.CO;2-Y

 Related EVISA Resources

Link Database: Toxicity of hexavalent chromium (chromate)
Link Database: Industrial Use of chromate
Link Database: Occupational exposure of hexavalent chromium
Link Database: Legislation for hexavalent chromium at the workplace

Related EVISA News (newest first)

June 22, 2010: Eight New Chemicals for REACH Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern
May 25, 2010: New OSHA Hexavalent Chromium Requirement
February 17, 2010: Hexavalent Chromium: OSHA deadline for engineering controls approaching
May 28, 2009: Hexavalent chromium rule added to revised OSHA Shipyard Industry Document
May 17, 2007: Hexavalent Chromium in Drinking Water Causes Cancer in Lab Animals
June 8, 2006: Scientific journal adds fuel to ongoing chromium debate
February 6, 2008: OSHA Issues Enforcement Procedures Directive for Hex Chrome Standards
April 12, 2007: OSHA Agrees to Monitor Worker Exposure to Hexavalent Chromium-Containing Cement
October 4, 2006: OSHA Issues Hexavalent Chromium Guidance for Small Businesses
February 28, 2006: OSHA Issues Final Standard on Hexavalent Chromium

last time modified: May 20, 2024


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