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Earthjustice Lawsuit Challenges EPA's Failure to Crack Down on Supertoxins

Continuing to stress the need for stronger and timelier implementation of clean air safeguards, Earthjustice today filed the third of seven lawsuits challenging the federal government's chronic failure to protect Americans from the health hazards of toxic air pollution.
July 18, 2001
WASHINGTON, DC —

Continuing to stress the need for stronger and timelier implementation of clean air safeguards, Earthjustice today filed the third of seven lawsuits challenging the federal government's chronic failure to protect Americans from the health hazards of toxic air pollution. Representing Sierra Club, Earthjustice is filing one lawsuit each day for a week, to compel EPA to do its job.

Today's lawsuit focuses specifically on supertoxins – dioxins, PCBs, and mercury as well as four other pollutants that Congress singled out for especially careful regulation.

"In 1990, Congress put a shortlist of seven supertoxins in the Clean Air Act," said Earthjustice attorney James Pew. "All seven share characteristics that make them especially dangerous. First, even in extremely low doses they can cause a wide variety of horrible health effects, including cancer and birth defects. Second, they persist almost indefinitely in the environment. Third, they bioaccumulate in the foodchain, so that relatively low levels in the environment can translate into high levels in certain types of fish, dairy products, and meat."

"Once emitted, these pollutants contaminate the environment for decades," said Dr. Bob Palzer, chair of Sierra Club's Air Committee. "It's time to get them under control so we can start cleaning up and reducing the risk. Until we do, people are likely to get seriously sick as a result of our inaction."

The seven pollutants, listed in the Clean Air Act, are alkylated lead compounds, polycyclic organic matter, hexachlorobenzene, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzofurans and 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (collectively referred to as dioxins).

"By November 2000, EPA was required to complete regulations assuring that the sources emitting 90 percent of the supertoxins were subject to emission standards with respect to those pollutants," pointed out Pew. "But it hasn't done so. In fact, for three of the seven pollutants, including PCBs, EPA has yet to require any controls at all."

On behalf of Sierra Club, Earthjustice filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

For more information, contact Suzanne Carrier of Earthjustice (202-667-4500) or Bob Palzer, Ph.D. of Sierra Club (541-482-2492).

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Contacts

202.667.4500

Suzanne Carrier, x. 209

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.