Commentary

Caroline Snyder: Resist industry pressure

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Caroline Snyder, Ph.D., an emeritus professor of environmental science at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y. She lives in New Hampshire.

Industry arguments used to oppose Vermont’s toxics chemical bill (VTDigger, April 17) are similar to the arguments used by the North East Biosolids and Residuals Association and the biosolids industry to derail Vermont’s current more protective rules that govern the land application of biosolids (aka sewage sludge).

Vermont should resist industry pressure to kill this toxic chemical bill, as well as industry pressure to relax its current more protective state rules that govern the land application of biosolids.

 

In both cases, industry argues that there needs to be more research to prove actual harm and that small amounts of toxic chemicals are harmless. The we-need-more-research argument, especially if the research is done by industry-paid scientists, is simply a way to delay regulation and preserve the status quo. The small-amounts-are safe argument has recently been questioned by the scientific community because very small amounts — parts per trillion — of endocrine disrupters, PCBs and dioxins can seriously harm developing organisms, depending on the time of exposure. Worse, current risk assessment models only measure the toxic impact of each separate chemical, ignoring synergistic effects and interactions between contaminants that occur in chemical mixtures. No current lab can reliably assess the exposure risk from complex mixtures. And no government agency has the funds to do so, even on a limited basis.

Vermont should resist industry pressure to kill this toxic chemical bill, as well as industry pressure to relax its current more protective state rules that govern the land application of biosolids.


Commentary

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