FOCUS: Regulating Chemicals
The link between human health and our environment may be obvious, but the devil is in the details.
In January, new or forthcoming reports about common industrial chemicals provoked the usual disputes between public health activists and the business community over the need for regulation.
-The solvent trichloroethylene has been linked with lymphoma and other diseases. It was dumped "indiscriminately" in the past, and a doctor with Boston University called the EPA "cowardly" for not controlling the substance. If a cancer link is established, the environmental cleanup costs -- including groundwater -- could run to the billions of dollars.
-PFOA, a chemical used to make the non-stick coating Teflon, has been tentatively linked to liver and testicular cancer in animals. No human link has yet been established. DuPont, the owner of the Teflon brand, released its own report finding no cancer evidence, but problems with cholesterol increases.