Government/Nonprofit/Industry Plan Outlined to Remedy Lack of Comprehensive U.S. System to Protect Public From Harmful Chemical Exposures

Jun 09, 2011, 11:00 ET from American Public Health Association

"Action Agenda" Arising From Broad-Based "National Conversation on Public Health and Chemical Exposures" Outlines 48 Recommendations to Ensure Chemical Safety for Americans

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Even though Americans are exposed every day to potentially harmful chemicals, the U.S. government currently does not have in place a comprehensive system to protect the public in such situations. That is expected to change as a result of a new "action agenda" emerging from a two-year national conversation led by government, nonprofit and industry organizations.  

The National Conversation on Public Health and Chemical Exposures is a collaboration of RESOLVE, a nonprofit consensus-building organization; the American Public Health Association; the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials; the National Association of County and City Health Officials; and others. As part of their mission to advance the public's health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) supported the National Conversation. Dozens of government agency, nonprofit and industry experts and thousands of members of the public were involved in developing the recommendations.

Available online at, "Addressing Public Health and Chemical Exposures: An Action Agenda" explains that "the United States lacks a comprehensive system that fully protects the public's health from harmful chemical exposures. The recommendations described in this Action Agenda illustrate how we can enhance and continue to build such a system in the United States. … [The] Action Agenda calls for an increased emphasis on preventing harmful chemical exposures, reforming outdated and ineffective policies, promoting the health of children and other vulnerable populations, and improving our ability to make or engage in difficult decisions, often in the face of uncertainty. The Action Agenda also recommends improving data access and management, expanding systems for monitoring chemical exposures and health outcomes, and building scientific knowledge on many fronts, such as through faster evaluation of chemical hazards."

Dr. Christopher Portier, director of the National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at CDC, said: "The National Conversation on Public Health and Chemical Exposures was grounded in the vision of a nation that uses and manages chemicals in ways that are safe and healthy for all people. This vision grows out of the nation's rising awareness that human health and the environment are deeply intertwined. Many Americans have important questions about chemicals and health that have not yet been answered adequately. Are the products I use every day safe? Are they safe for my children? Where can I go for clear information? What accounts for the health problems I see in my community? These and other similar questions are legitimate and deserve our nation's attention. I look forward to carefully reviewing the Action Agenda and considering ways that it can help NCEH/ATSDR better protect the public from harmful chemical exposures."

Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, executive director of the Children's Environmental Health Network, said: "Imagine a nation where families with children and other members of a community know their water, soil, air, homes, schools and places of work and recreation are healthy for everyone and free from chemical hazards. The National Conversation was born out of this vision, and out of a widely shared desire to consider past successes, identify current challenges and highlight solutions that would promote a health-protective chemical safety system. The National Conversation Action Agenda includes steps that each of us can take to bring us closer to the vision of a nation that uses and manages chemicals in ways that are safe and healthy for all people."

Gail Shibley, administrator of the public health division, office of environmental public health, at the Oregon Department of Human Services/Oregon Health Authority, said: "States play an important role in setting and enforcing protective policies and conducting surveillance, and take seriously their responsibility to protect their citizens. The recommendations in the Action Agenda reflect the input of many state and local public health and environmental health practitioners, and include several concrete actions that would significantly improve state and local efforts to protect the public's health from harmful chemical exposure."

Dr. Daniel Goldstein, lead, Medical Sciences and Outreach at Monsanto, said: "The National Conversation was a collaborative process, and the Action Agenda reflects the input of thousands of individuals who bring a wide array of experience and perspectives. I served as one of the voices of industry involved in this process. While we in the chemical industry have made important progress in better protecting the public's health, there are clearly areas in which industry can and should collaborate, and sometimes even take the lead, in doing a better job. The Action Agenda contains specific recommendations that will fairly, effectively and collaboratively promote public health, and includes suggestions for ways industry can work with government agencies and other partners to that end."


The new "Action Agenda" outlines a total of 48 recommendations in seven major chapters, which is available at

CONTACT:  Leslie Anderson, (703) 276-3256 or; and David Fouse, (202) 777-2501 or

SOURCE American Public Health Association