Wow! Must Read! The Poison Papers: Documenting the Hidden History of Chemical and Pesticide Hazards in the United States, Makes public 100,000 pages of chemical industry secrets and regulator collusion. “We didn’t think of ourselves as environmentalists, that wasn’t even a word back then,” Van Strum said. “We just didn’t want to be poisoned.”

The Poison Papers – Documenting the history of pesticide hazards in the United States

The Poison Papers are a diverse set of internal memos, court depositions, and other documents detailing pesticide and chemical safety concerns of companies, government regulators, and their employees.

The Papers

The “Poison Papers” represent a vast trove of rediscovered chemical industry and regulatory agency documents and correspondence stretching back to the 1920s. Taken as a whole, the papers show that both industry and regulators understood the extraordinary toxicity of many chemical products and worked together to conceal this information from the public and the press. These papers will transform our understanding of the hazards posed by certain chemicals on the market and the fraudulence of some of the regulatory processes relied upon to protect human health and the environment. Search instructions for the Poison Papers.

View the papers on DocumentCloud

The Poison Papers are a compilation of over 20,000 documents obtained from federal agencies and chemical manufacturers via open records requests and public interest litigation. They include internal scientific studies and summaries of studies, internal memos and reports, meeting minutes, strategic discussions, and sworn testimonies. The majority of these documents have been scanned and digitized by us for the first time and represent nearly three tons of material. The regulatory agency sources of these documents include: the EPA, the USDA Forest Service, the FDA, the Veterans Administration, and the Department of Defense. Chemical manufacturers referenced in the documents include: Dow, Monsanto, DuPont, and Union Carbide, as well as many smaller manufacturers and the commercial testing companies who worked for them.

The Poison Papers are a project of the Bioscience Resource Project and the Center for Media and Democracy. The Poison Papers were largely collected by author and activist Carol Van Strum.

The Poison Papers catalogue both the secret concerns of industry and regulators over the hazards of pesticides and other chemicals and their efforts to conceal those concerns.

Poison Papers (Photo Credit Risa Scott)

Poison Papers (Photo Credit Risa Scott)

Corporate concealment is not a new story. What is novel in the Poison Papers is abundant evidence that EPA and other regulators were, often, knowing participants or even primary instigators of these cover-ups. These regulators failed to inform the public of the hazards of dioxins and other chemicals; of evidence of fraudulent independent testing; even of one instance of widespread human exposure. The papers thus reveal, in the often-incriminating words of the participants themselves, an elaborate universe of deception and deceit surrounding many pesticides and synthetic chemicals.

The chemicals most often discussed in the documents include herbicides and pesticides (such as 2,4-D, Dicamba, Permethrin, Atrazine, and Agent Orange), dioxins, and PCBs. Some of these chemicals are among the most toxic and persistent ever manufactured.

Except for PCBs, almost every chemical discussed in the Poison Papers is still manufactured and sold today, either as products or as product contaminants. Recent research from Australia, shows that many newly-synthesized chlorinated chemical products, including the herbicide 2,4-D, remain contaminated with dioxins. Notably, 2,4-D has just been authorized by EPA for use on Dow’s new GMO 2,4-D-tolerant soybeans.

Some of the 20,000+ documents in this repository have surfaced over the years. Many have never been either read or publicly written about. The Poison Papers therefore offer a unique opportunity for researchers, the public and the media to discover much more about what was known about chemical toxicity, when, and by whom.

Search Instructions
The Poison Papers have been uploaded as a group of PDF files in DocumentCloud. DocumentCloud is a searchable online public database available for free. It is best to select the “Poison Papers” group and search by key words such as company or chemical name. The search function scans the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) version of the papers. It is important to note that OCR is an imperfect process and the documents are far from being fully reviewed or catalogued, especially because some of the documents are handwritten notes. …

Chemical Lowlights — Some of what the Poison Papers Reveal:

Secrecy— They disclose EPA meeting minutes of a secret high level dioxins working group that admitted dioxins are extraordinarily poisonous chemicals. The internal minutes contradict the Agency’s longstanding refusal to regulate dioxins or set legal limits.

Collusion— They demonstrate EPA collusion with the pulp and paper industry to “suppress, modify, or delay” the results of the congressionally-mandated National Dioxin Study, which found high levels of dioxins in everyday products, such as baby diapers and coffee filters, as well as pulp and paper mill effluents.

Deception— They provide important new data on the infamous Industrial Bio-Test (IBT) scandal. By the late 1970s, it was known that more than 800 safety studies performed by IBT on 140 chemicals produced by 38 chemical manufacturers were nonexistent, fraudulent, or invalid. The Poison Papers, however, show that EPA and its Canadian counterpart, the Health Protection Branch (HPB), colluded with pesticide manufacturers, to keep invalidly registered products on the market and covered up problems with many IBT tests.

Cover-up— The papers also show that EPA staff had evidence that this IBT scandal involved more independent testing companies and more products than ever officially acknowledged.

Concealment— The papers show that EPA concealed and falsely discredited its own studies finding high levels of dioxin — 2,3,7,8-TCDD — in environmental samples and human breast milk following routine use of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T (Agent Orange) by the federal Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

Intent— They show Monsanto chief medical officer George Roush admitted under oath to knowing that Monsanto studies into the health effects of dioxins on workers were written up untruthfully for the scientific literature such as to obscure health effects. These fraudulent studies were heavily relied upon by EPA to avoid regulating dioxin. They also were relied upon to defend manufacturers in lawsuits brought by veterans claiming damages from exposure to Agent Orange. [Emphasis added]

100,000 PAGES OF CHEMICAL INDUSTRY SECRETS GATHERED DUST IN AN OREGON BARN FOR DECADES — UNTIL NOW by Sharon Lerner, July 26 2017, The Intercept

 From left, Carol Van Strum and her neighbor Kathy clean and pull staples as Peter von Stackelberg, who covered Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories as a reporter for the Regina, Saskatchewan, Leader-Post, operates two scanners simultaneously, May 2017. Photo: Risa Scott/RF Scott Imagery

FOR DECADES, SOME of the dirtiest, darkest secrets of the chemical industry have been kept in Carol Van Strum’s barn. Creaky, damp, and prowled by the occasional black bear, the listing, 80-year-old structure in rural Oregon housed more than 100,000 pages of documents obtained through legal discovery in lawsuits against Dow, Monsanto, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the Air Force, and pulp and paper companies, among others.

As of today, those documents and others that have been collected by environmental activists will be publicly available through a project called the Poison Papers. Together, the library contains more than 200,000 pages of information and “lays out a 40-year history of deceit and collusion involving the chemical industry and the regulatory agencies that were supposed to be protecting human health and the environment,” said Peter von Stackelberg, a journalist who along with the Center for Media and Democracy and the Bioscience Resource Project helped put the collection online.

Van Strum didn’t set out to be the repository for the people’s pushback against the chemical industry. She moved to a house in the Siuslaw National Forest in 1974 to live a simple life. But soon after she arrived, she realized the Forest Service was spraying her area with an herbicide called 2,4,5-T — on one occasion, directly dousing her four children with it as they fished by the river.

The chemical was one of two active ingredients in Agent Orange, which the U.S. military had stopped using in Vietnam after public outcry about the fact that it caused cancer, birth defects, and serious harms to people, animals, and the environment. But in the U.S., the Forest Service continued to use both 2,4,5-T and the other herbicide in Agent Orange, 2,4-D, to kill weeds. (Timber was — and in some places still is — harvested from the national forest and sold.) Between 1972 and 1977, the Forest Service sprayed 20,000 pounds of 2,4,5-T in the 1,600-square-mile area that included Van Strum’s house and the nearby town of Alsea.

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A view of the Five Rivers valley in rural Oregon looking southwest from Carol Van Strum’s front door. Photo: Risa Scott/RF Scott Imagery

As in Vietnam, the chemicals hurt people and animals in Oregon, as well as the plants that were their target. Immediately after they were sprayed, Van Strum’s children developed nosebleeds, bloody diarrhea, and headaches, and many of their neighbors fell sick, too. Several women who lived in the area had miscarriages shortly after incidents of spraying. Locals described finding animals that had died or had bizarre deformities — ducks with backward-facing feet, birds with misshapen beaks, and blinded elk; cats and dogs that had been exposed began bleeding from their eyes and ears. At a community meeting, residents decided to write to the Forest Service detailing the effects of the spraying they had witnessed.

“We thought that if they knew what had happened to us, they wouldn’t do it anymore,” Van Strum said recently, before erupting into one of the many bursts of laughter that punctuate her conversation. We were sitting not far from the river where her children played more than 40 years ago, and her property remained much as it was back when the Forest Service first sprayed them with the herbicide. A mountain covered with alder and maple trees rose up across from her home, just as it did then, and the same monkey puzzle tree that was there when she moved in still shaded her dirt driveway.

But Van Strum, now 76, is much changed from the young woman who politely asked that the federal agency stop spraying many years ago. After the Forest Service refused their request to stop using the herbicides, she and her neighbors filed a suit that led to a temporary ban on 2,4,5-T in their area in 1977 and, ultimately, to a total stop to the use of the chemical in 1983.

For Van Strum, the suit was also the beginning of lifetime of battling the chemical industry. The lawyer who had taken their case offered a reduced fee in exchange for Van Strum’s unpaid research assistance. And she found she had a knack for poring over and parsing documents and keeping track of huge volumes of information. Van Strum provided guidance to others filing suit over spraying in national forests and helped filed another case that pointed out that the EPA’s registration of 2,4-D and other pesticides was based on fraudulent data from a company called Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories. That case led to a decision, in 1983, to stop all aerial herbicide spraying by the Forest Service.

“We didn’t think of ourselves as environmentalists, that wasn’t even a word back then,” Van Strum said. “We just didn’t want to be poisoned.”

Still, Van Strum soon found herself helping with a string of suits filed by people who had been hurt by pesticides and other chemicals. “People would call up and say, ‘Do you have such and such?’ And I’d go clawing through my boxes,” said Van Strum, who often wound up acquiring new documents through these requests — and storing those, too, in her barn.

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Some of the more than 100,000 pages of discovery material related to the chemical industry that were stored in Carol Van Strum’s barn in rural Oregon. Photo: Risa Scott/RF Scott Imagery

Along the way, she amassed disturbing evidence about the dangers of industrial chemicals — and the practices of the companies that make them. Two documents, for instance, detailed experiments that Dow contracted a University of Pennsylvania dermatologist to conduct on prisoners in the 1960s to show the effects of TCDD, a particularly toxic contaminant found in 2,4,5-T.

Another document, from 1985, showed that Monsanto had sold a chemical that was tainted with TCDD to the makers of Lysol, who, apparently unaware of its toxicity, used it as an ingredient in their disinfectant spray for 23 years.

Yet another, from 1990, detailed the EPA policy of allowing the use of hazardous waste as inert ingredients in pesticides and other products under certain circumstances. [Like in frac fluids? Cheap, convenient, secret way for industry to rid itself of mega tonnes of expensive to dispose of hazardous waste?]

There were limits to what Van Strum could prove through her persistent data collection. The EPA had undertaken a study of the relationship between herbicide exposure and miscarriages and had taken tissue samples from water, animals, a miscarried fetus, and a baby born without a brain in the area. The EPA never released the full results of the “Alsea study,” as it was called, and insisted it had lost many of them. But a lab chemist provided Van Strum with what he said was the analysis of the test results he had been hired to do for the EPA, which showed the samples from water, various animals, and “products of conception” were significantly contaminated with TCDD.

When confronted, the EPA claimed there had been a mix-up and that the samples were from another area. Van Strum filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the results and, for years, battled in court to get to the bottom of what happened. Though the EPA provided more than 34,000 pages in response to her request (which Van Strum carefully numbered and stored in her barn), the agency never released all the results of the study or fully explained what had happened to them or where the contaminated samples had been taken. And eventually, Van Strum gave up. The EPA declined to comment for this story.

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Carol Van Strum prepares to work on her property with her dogs Maybe and Mike at her side in May 2017. Photo: Risa Scott/RF Scott Imagery

She had to make peace with not fully understanding a personal tragedy, too. In 1977, her house burned to the ground and her four children died in the fire. Firefighters who came to the scene said the fact that the whole house had burned so quickly pointed to the possibility of arson. But an investigation of the causes of the fire was never completed.

Van Strum suspected some of her opponents might have set the fire. It was a time of intense conflict between local activists and employees of timber companies, chemical manufacturers, and government agencies over the spraying of herbicides. A group of angry residents in the area near Van Strum’s home had destroyed a Forest Service helicopter that had been used for spraying. And, on one occasion, Van Strum had come home to find some of the defenders of the herbicides she was attacking in court on her property.

“I’ve accepted that I’ll never really know” what happened, said Van Strum, who never rebuilt her house and now lives in an outbuilding next to the cleared site where it once stood.

But her commitment to the battle against toxic chemicals survived the ordeal. “If it was intentional, it was the worst thing that ever happened to me,” she said. “After that, there was nothing that could make me stop.”

Still, after all these years, Van Strum felt it was time to pass on her collection of documents, some of which pertain to battles that are still being waged, so “others can take up the fight.” And the seeds of many of the fights over chemicals going on today can be tied to the documents that sat in her barn. The Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories scandal is central in litigation over the carcinogenicity of Monsanto’s Roundup, for instance. And 2,4-D, the other active ingredient in Agent Orange, is still in use.

Meanwhile, private timber companies continue to use both 2,4-D and Roundup widely, though not in the national forest. Van Strum has been part of an effort to ban aerial pesticide spraying in the county, and is speaking on behalf of the local ecosystem in a related lawsuit.

“I get to play the Lorax,” Van Strum said. “It’s going to be fun.” [Emphasis added]

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A view of the Five Rivers valley in rural Oregon looking southwest from Carol Van Strum’s front door. Photo: Risa Scott/RF Scott Imagery

“Poison Papers” Snapshot: Transcript Illustrates EPA Collusion with Chemical Industry by Rebekah Wilce, July 27, 2017

The world of independent chemical testing has a shiny veneer. The public is reassured that chemicals they’re exposed to on a daily basis are certified by technicians in spotless white lab coats who carefully conduct scientific studies, including on animals in neat rows of cages.

But a federal grand jury investigation that ended with convictions in the early 1980s discovered that Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories (IBT), the largest such lab in the United States, conducted trials with mice that regularly drowned in their feeding troughs. The dead animals would decompose so quickly that “their bodies oozed through wire cage bottoms and lay in purple puddles on the dropping trays.” IBT even invented an acronym “TBD/TDA” for its raw safety data, later discovered to mean “too badly decomposed.”

That was just one of a host of problems uncovered at IBT which conducted an estimated 35 to 40 percent of all the toxicology tests performed in the United States including for FDA regulated products and EPA regulated pesticides and chemicals. Scientists at the FDA were the first to spot the fraud and misconduct and blew the whistle on IBT in Senate hearings in the late 1970’s. Soon after, the EPA was forced to deal with the issue and estimated behind the scenes that some 80 percent of the data provided to them for chemical registration from IBT was nonexistent, fraudulent, or invalid.

The IBT scandal presented the EPA with a potentially immense crisis. Knowing that almost every IBT test it had looked at was seriously flawed and presumptively fraudulent, it could order retests and withdraw its approval from every IBT-tested chemical. This course of action would have been fully warranted, scientifically. But it would have had drastic effects on the chemical industry, on public confidence, and on the newly-formed EPA itself.

What the EPA did instead is revealed in a transcript of a meeting that took place at the Howard Johnson Inn in Arlington, Virginia on October 3rd, 1978. This secret meeting was between senior figures at EPA, Canada’s Health Protection Branch, and executives of the chemical industry, and was intended to solve the IBT “problem.”

This transcript is part of more than 20,000 documents, weighing over three tons, just released by the Bioscience Resource Project and the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), on the “Poison Papers.” website. Most of the Poison Papers were collected by author and activist Carol Van Strum, who used documents obtained through public interest lawsuits and open records requests to investigate chemical pollution, and digitized by journalist Peter von Stackelberg. Van Strum’s remarkable story was detailed this week in the Intercept. 

A Conversation About Collusion

The Poison Papers represent a vast trove of rediscovered chemical industry and regulatory agency documents and correspondence stretching back to the 1920s. Collectively they shed light on what was known about chemical toxicity, when, and by whom, in the often-incriminating words of the participants themselves.

The Howard Johnson’s transcript is a prime example of the materials in the trove. It allows us to “listen in” on a conversation that took place decades ago, but still has implication for us today.

The transcript “exemplifies as well as any other single document among the Papers the history of everyday regulatory failures and agency complicity that is the unknown story of the EPA and its enduring collusion with the chemical industry, and whose result is a systemic failure to protect the American public from chemical hazards,” says Dr. Jonathan Latham, Director of the Bioscience Resource Project.

“Not One” IBT Study Free of Errors

The Howard Johnson’s meeting was called to discuss the IBT scandal and plan a way forward. No consumer groups, environmental groups or members of the public were present that day in Arlington under HoJo’s cheerful orange roof when the topic of how to deal with the dead animals, the fraudulent, and the corrupt data was discussed. [But Canada’s Health Protection Branch was!]

Near the outset of the meeting, the EPA’s Fred Arnold, Acting Branch Chief of Regulatory Analysis & Lab Audits, assured the chemical company representatives present that no chemicals would be removed from the market, even though the studies supposedly showing their safety had been proven fraudulent: 

“We determined that [i]t was neither in EPA’s interest or the public interest or the registrants’ interest [to replace all IBT data] because a large number of studies, which were performed at IBT, were performed satisfactorily,” Arnold said (p. 6).

Yet Arnold’s contention that some of the studies were “satisfactory” was contradicted multiple times in the same meeting. It was later stated, for example, that not one IBT study was free of errors (p. 16). Dr. Arthur Pallotta, Consultant to the Special Pesticide Review Division in the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, stated that “there were few [IBT] studies that did not have discrepancies, errors and omissions” (p. 27). Elsewhere in the transcript, EPA accepted that over 80 percent of the test results from IBT were invalid (p. 123).

But Arnold’s assertion that it wasn’t in anyone’s interest to demand new studies had striking ramifications. It was the grounds for not removing any chemicals from the market, for reassuring the public, and for kicking the IBT mess down the road. By 1983, EPA had determined that over 90 percent of IBT’s studies submitted to them had serious, invalidating problems.

A “Salvage Operation”: Ignoring Scientific Controls

Early in the meeting, EPA made a list of IBT errors that it planned to ignore to make the task of “validating” IBT’s studies manageable.

It planned to ignore whenever animals were missing from (or added to) studies. No statistic existed then – nor does it now – to compensate for such measurement irregularities, but this difficulty was glossed over by the EPA.

Just as bad, many IBT studies appeared to be shorter in time than protocols called for. As David Clegg of Canada’s Health Protection Branch explained to the meeting:

“Now, we have come across the 90-day study where the study started on, let’s say, the 1st of June. The invoice for shipment of the test material from the firm was the 9th of June, and the diet preparation sheets are for the 12th of June.

“In other words, by the time the diet was prepared, according to the raw data, the study has been underway for 12 days for a 90-day study.

“This does not necessarily invalidate the study, of course. You can still get some information from it, but the whole base line, which you are working from, has to be altered to deal with an 88-day [sic] study or whatever length it is and conclusions have to be drawn on this sort of basis” (pp. 34-35).

EPA also noted that IBT had major problems with its controls. It had run a system known as “common controls.” These controls were often in different rooms or carried out at different times, presumably with rats from different batches. EPA proposed cobbling such experiments together and thus making use of these controls. Clegg’s tone was apologetic:

“I can’t say that I am very happy about this on scientific grounds, but we are trying to run this as a salvage operation and, if we can come up with something which gives us a reasonable base line for controls which may be applicable to a number of studies, then, when controls are not available, we’ll compare them against those controls,” he said (p. 41).

EPA Adopts Unsigned Studies

EPA’s Arnold also admitted at the meeting what appeared to be EPA’s own historical fraud. In revisiting original data sent to them by IBT, manufacturers might find that, in the past, EPA had itself examined the tissue samples and determined there to be “no significant finding” when in fact “the truth of the matter is the organ was never examined” (Arnold, p. 102).

By the time the FDA and EPA had taken a strong interest in the testing lab, IBT had begun a “policy not to sign” its own reports, according to the transcript, indicating that staff were unwilling to stand behind the findings.

As Fred Arnold told the attendees, “A number of scientists, who may have been involved in the early states of a test, are no longer there and nobody can state, categorically, that everything reflected in the report, in fact, is borne out by the raw data” (pp. 63-64).

Arnold admitted that EPA had in the past sometimes accepted unsigned studies. So he stated that its remedy to the new signature problem would be to adopt such unsigned studies in order not “to create a double standard now” (p. 64), effectively adopting IBT’s unprecedented practices as its own.

It was later uncovered in court proceedings that IBT also forged signatures.

The Howard Johnson Take-Home

Three IBT officials went to prison, closing a chapter on a massive scientific fraud, but the book was never closed.

“As the Howard Johnson transcript reveals, a majority of the IBT studies were never intended to be redone, and still underlie the U.S. chemical regulatory system,” said Latham. [And thus Canada’s largely too]

Author Carol Van Strum commented on the significance of the transcript for CMD:

“The 1978 Howard Johnson transcript records a crucial meeting of EPA, Canadian, and pesticide industry officials to discuss EPA’s response to massive fraud in the safety tests for pesticide registrations. At the meeting, Fred T. Arnold, chief of EPA Regulatory Analysis and Lab Audits, assured industry that EPA’s discovery of fraudulent, invalid, or nonexistent safety tests would ‘not interfere with the ability to control pests and market pesticides.’ This document was the linchpin of my book, A Bitter Fog: Herbicides and Human Rights, documenting the government’s acceptance of phony industry studies while dismissing reports of human illness, death, involuntary abortions, birth defects, and other effects of pesticide exposure.” [Emphasis added]

The Poison Papers Expose Decades of Collusion between Industry and Regulators over Hazardous Pesticides and Other Chemicals by PRWatch Editors, July 26, 2017

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Contact: Dr. Jonathan Latham, email hidden; JavaScript is required,

Carol Van Strum, email hidden; JavaScript is required

or Mary Bottari, email hidden; JavaScript is required

The Poison Papers Expose Decades of Collusion between Industry and Regulators over Hazardous Pesticides and Other Chemicals

Watchdog Groups Digitize and Release 20,000 Documents for Public Review

The Bioscience Resource Project and the Center for Media and Democracy today are releasing a trove of rediscovered and newly digitized chemical industry and regulatory agency documents stretching back to the 1920s. The documents are available at PoisonPapers.org.

Together, the papers show that both industry and regulators understood the extraordinary toxicity of many chemical products and worked together to conceal this information from the public and the press. These papers will transform our understanding of the hazards posed by certain chemicals on the market and the fraudulence of some of the regulatory processes relied upon to protect human health and the environment.

“These documents represent a tremendous trove of previously hidden or lost evidence on chemical regulatory activity and chemical safety. What is most striking about these documents is their heavy focus on the activities of regulators. Time and time again regulators went to the extreme lengths of setting up secret committees, deceiving the media and the public, and covering up evidence of human exposure and human harm. These secret activities extended and increased human exposure to chemicals they knew to be toxic,” said Dr. Jonathan Latham, Executive Director of the Bioscience Resource Project.

The Poison Papers are a compilation of over 20,000 documents obtained from federal agencies and chemical manufacturers via open records requests and public interest litigation. They include scientific studies and summaries of studies, internal memos and reports, meeting minutes, strategic discussions, and sworn testimonies.

The majority of these documents have been scanned and digitized for the first time and represent nearly three tons of material. The regulatory agency sources of these documents include: the EPA, the USDA Forest Service, the FDA, the Veterans Administration, and the Department of Defense. Chemical manufacturers referenced in the documents include: Dow, Monsanto, DuPont, and Union Carbide, as well as many smaller manufacturers and the commercial testing companies who worked for them.

The Poison Papers catalogue the secret concerns of industry and regulators over the hazards of pesticides and other chemicals and their efforts to conceal those concerns.

Most of the Poison Papers were collected by author and activist Carol Van Strum.

“In total, the stark truth revealed by these 50 years of documents is that the entire pesticide industry could not exist without lies, coverups, rampant fraud, and government enablers,” said Van Strum, who authored the 1983 book “Bitter Fog: Herbicides and Human Rights.”

Corporate concealment is not a new story. What is novel in the Poison Papers is the abundant evidence that EPA and other regulators were often knowing participants or even primary instigators of these cover-ups. These regulators failed to inform the public of the hazards of dioxins and other chemicals; of evidence of fraudulent independent testing; and of widespread human exposure. The papers thus reveal, in the often-incriminating words of the participants themselves, an elaborate universe of deception and deceit surrounding many pesticides and synthetic chemicals.

The chemicals most often discussed in the documents include dioxins, herbicides and pesticides (such as 2,4-D, Dicamba, Permethrin, Atrazine, and Agent Orange) and PCBs. Some of these chemicals are among the most toxic and persistent ever manufactured. Except for PCBs, almost every chemical discussed in the Poison Papers is still manufactured and sold today, either as products or as product contaminants. 

“The Poison Papers will be a tremendous resource for researchers, the media, and everyday Americans worried about many of the chemicals used on farm fields and in common consumer products,” said Mary Bottari of the Center for Media and Democracy.

EXPLORE: Some of the 20,000+ documents in this repository have surfaced over the years. Many have never been seen online or publicly written about. The Poison Papers therefore offer a unique opportunity for researchers, the public and the media to discover much more about what was known about chemical toxicity, when, and by whom.

ACCESS: You can access the papers at PoisonPapers.org. Important instructions on how best to search these old documents are also available here and on the website.

Poison Papers Reveal:

Secrecy — They disclose EPA meeting minutes of a secret high-level dioxins working group that admitted dioxins are extraordinarily poisonous chemicals. Internal minutes contradict the agency’s longstanding refusal to regulate dioxins or set legal limits.

Collusion — They demonstrate EPA collusion with the pulp and paper industry to “suppress, modify, or delay” the results of the congressionally-mandated National Dioxin Study, which found high levels of dioxins in everyday products, such as baby diapers and coffee filters, as well as pulp and paper mill effluents.

Deception — They provide important new data on the infamous Industrial Bio-Test (IBT) scandal. By the late 1970s, it was known that more than 800 safety studies performed by IBT on 140 chemicals produced by 38 chemical manufacturers were nonexistent, fraudulent, or invalid. The Poison Papers, however, show that EPA and its Canadian counterpart, the Health Protection Branch (HPB), colluded with pesticide manufacturers, to keep invalidly registered products on the market and covered up massive problems with many IBT tests.

Cover-up — The papers also show that EPA staff had evidence that this IBT scandal involved more independent testing companies and more products than ever officially acknowledged.

Concealment —Show that EPA concealed and falsely its own studies finding high levels of dioxin – 2,3,7,8-TCDD – in environmental samples and human breast milk following routine use of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T (Agent Orange) by the federal Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

Intent — Show that Monsanto chief medical officer George Roush admitted under oath to knowing that Monsanto studies into the health effects of dioxins on workers were written up untruthfully for the scientific literature such as to obscure health effects. These fraudulent studies were heavily relied upon by EPA to avoid regulating dioxins. They also were relied upon to defend manufacturers in lawsuits brought by veterans claiming damages from exposure to Agent Orange.

Links to the above documents and more can be found on the website here.

The mission of The Bioscience Resource Project is to provide the highest quality scientific information and analysis to enable a healthy food system and a healthy world. The Bioscience Resource Project is an educational nonprofit based in Ithaca New York, USA. It is the publisher of Independent Science News.

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) is a public interest watchdog group based in Madison, Wisconsin. CMD is the publisher of the websites ExposedbyCMD.org, ALECexposed.org, PRwatch.org and Sourcewatch.org.

***

Think Canadians are safe from the chemical industry and our regulators?  

2017 06 30: EXCLUSIVE: Health Canada delayed cosmetics ban following industry request by Carl Meyer, National Observer

Health Canada delayed its own ban on skin-care products it knew could be harmful after cosmetics firms demanded more time to reformulate and sell off their merchandise, documents show.

The government has acknowledged that certain cosmetics ingredients are known to cause rashes, itching, swelling, burning, dry skin and blisters in some situations, leading the health department to put them on a hotlist of prohibited and restricted products.

But after a prominent industry group representing cosmetics manufacturers complained to Canada’s top health bureaucrat about the timeframe of its ban and the impact on sales, the department pushed back its ban by more than six months, even though it had already built in a transition period.

The revelation, which has led one environmental group to criticize the government for caving to industry pressure, is contained in internal departmental documents obtained under access to information law by Ottawa researcher Ken Rubin, and subsequently confirmed in interviews with industry and government.

The government can amend its Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist to include new substances it believes represents probable violations of Section 16 of Canada’s Food and Drugs Act, which says no person shall sell cosmetics products that may hurt users when used in the way people typically use them.

On Dec. 14, 2015, the department posted the ingredients to the hotlist. It included a six-month transition period to allow companies to sell off their products, which would have ended on June 14, 2016.

But after the December 2015 posting, calls from industry started coming in.

The industry group, “as well as several of its member companies, contacted Health Canada to express dissatisfaction with the transition period and to request more time to reformulate and repackage their products,” the internal memo states.

“Health Canada learned that numerous manufacturers, based on a flawed understanding of the cosmetics regulatory process, anticipated an extended transition period similar to the 18-month transition offered in Europe. Many indicated that they would suffer significant losses if forced into immediate compliance.”

In determining its approach, the draft letter reads, Health Canada “took into consideration the confusion among industry” on how to stay within the law, “along with the business impact caused by changes to the hotlist, as illustrated by industry.” [Like Alberta Environment’s Deputy Minister Peter Watson (now Chair the NEB) chairing an October 4, 2004 meeting where it was acceptable that companies had violated the Water Act, frac’d aquifers and diverted fresh water without mandatory permits, because companies were unfamiliar with the regulations.]

2017 04 19: Amazing New study: Hazardous Chemicals Go Unregulated in Routine Oil and Gas Operations. Chemical regulations that govern hydraulic fracturing do not apply to numerous other uses of same chemicals on oil & gas development fields. (The toxic secrecy is much worse in Canada)

2017 04 05: Hypocrites! Health Canda wants “expanded powers” to strengthen regulation of natural health products but not toxic frac chemicals – not even to make companies disclose their secret frac brews to families breathing them! Not even to disclose Health Canada’s own frac health hazard report!

2015 11 27: Why so much frac fraud? Why is Health Canada hiding frac hazards to drinking water? Why publicly release pathogen harms, but not frac hazards and harms?

2014 10 01: Why was a 2012 Health Canada Report, admitting significant health hazards and risks to groundwater and air from hydraulic fracturing, kept from the public?

1998: Secrecy and [Canada’s] Health Protection Branch [HPB] by Joel Lexchin, MD

Clearly, there are good reasons why manufacturing information should be protected by the HPB. This is proprietary knowledge that, if it became public, could
adversely affect profits by providing competitors with an unfair advantage. In addition, personal data that enter the files of regulatory agencies such as the HPB can include the identity of individual patients and health care professionals as well as information on individual patients’ diagnoses. Any such information that might lead
to the identification of individual patients or health care professionals should not be disclosed to any party.11

However, concerns about confidentiality do not apply when it comes to health and safety data. There is no good evidence to show that the interests of companies
would be harmed by the disclosure of this type of information; more specifically, confidentiality is not necessary to foster research and innovation.12 On the other hand, nondisclosure has serious disadvantages for the HPB, health care professionals and the public. If information submitted to regulatory agencies is never disclosed, these data will never enter normal peer review channels and will therefore not be subject to scrutiny by independent scientists. Without this type of feedback HPB reviewers may be more prone to misjudge the accuracy or usefulness of the data submitted; moreover, the scientific atmosphere in the agency may be stifled and the professional growth of its staff severely inhibited.12 Deprived of any independent access to information, health care professionals have no choice but to accept the HPB’s judgement about the safety and effectiveness of products. … Finally, the public may be denied knowledge of the full health effects of products so that they can decide for themselves whether or not to use them.

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Still believe frac fluids are perfectly safe, with just a little bit of sugar to help them go down?

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