PANUPS: Calif Sued over Toxic Chems

                         P A N U P S
                   Pesticide Action Network 
                        North America
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                   EMAIL: panna@panna.org

August 8, 1997

Environment/Labor Coalition Sues California

A coalition of environmental and labor groups filed a lawsuit 
on August 6, 1997 against California Governor Pete Wilson and 
the State's Environmental Protection Agency for failing to 
warn residents about potential exposures to scores of toxins. 
The lawsuit targets the State for failing to list 66 
reproductive and developmental toxins under the Safe Drinking 
Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, also called 
Proposition 65. The governor, through action of the Office of 
Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), is required 
to list chemicals which are known reproductive toxins or 
carcinogens and to update the list every year. However, the 
State has yet to take action on 66 reproductive toxins placed 
on the U.S. Toxic Release Inventory by the U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA) over two and a half years ago.

The coalition filing the suit includes the Natural Resources 
Defense Council, Californians for Pesticide Reform, Pesticide 
Action Network North America, Pesticide Watch, CALPIRG 
Charitable Trust, Environmental Defense Fund, the AFL-CIO and 
United Farm Workers.

Proposition 65, approved by voters in 1986, requires that 
prior warning be given before exposing any person to a toxin 
"known to the State" to cause cancer, birth-defects or other 
reproductive harm. Warning requirements enable Californians 
to avoid unnecessary exposure, and create an incentive for 
manufacturers to seek safer chemical alternatives. 
Proposition 65 is credited with leading to the reformulation 
of many products and for reducing emissions of listed toxins 
from industrial facilities across the state.

There are two ways that chemicals can get listed under 
Proposition 65. The chemical could be identified by an 
"authoritative body" as a carcinogen or reproductive toxicant 
or it could be listed by the "state's qualified experts" -- a 
panel of scientists. According to the coalition, U.S. EPA is 
a designated "authoritative body" under Prop. 65, and 
therefore when a chemical is formally identified by U.S. EPA 
as a carcinogen or a reproductive toxicant, it must then be 
listed by OEHHA.

The coalition states that U.S. EPA formally identified the 66 
chemicals as reproductive toxicants in 1994 when the Agency 
included them in a list added to the Toxics Release Inventory 
(TRI). TRI is the federal right-to-know law that requires 
industry to disclose emissions and transfers of toxic 
chemicals. In the final ruling which listed the 66 toxins 
under TRI, U.S. EPA stated: "Moreover, the adverse effects 
associated with each of the chemicals being listed today are 
serious and significant. In some cases the effects are 
extreme, such as cancer or death. In others, the effects are 
serious and lasting, including, for example, impairment of a 
fetus' or an offspring's physical development, neurological 
effects inhibiting motor abilities or mental processes, or 
impairing the ability to reproduce."

OEHHA claims that because U.S. EPA listed chemicals under the 
TRI which are "known or reasonably anticipated" to cause 
reproductive harm, not all of the chemicals should be 
considered "known" reproductive toxicants under Prop. 65, and 
that further review is required by the State.

According to a report released by Californians for Pesticide 
Reform, use of the 66 toxins is widespread in California. In 
1995 (the most recent year for which data are available), one 
in every eight pounds of pesticides applied in California 
agriculture was a reproductive toxin that should have been 
subject to the Prop. 65 warning requirements.

These pesticides are used in agriculture in every California 
county and on over 75 food crops. California carrots, 
tomatoes, potatoes and rice each received over one million 
pounds of pesticides identified as reproductive toxins but 
not listed under Proposition 65. Seven of the 66 toxins are 
used in household pest control products -- many for pet 
products that may be sources of exposure to children.

Sources: NRDC/CALPIRG Charitable Trust press release, August 
6, 1997. "Broken Trust: How Cal-EPA has kept Californians in 
the Dark about 66 reproductive toxins," August 5, 1997, 
CALPIRG Charitable Trust, NRDC, Californians for Pesticide 

For a list of the 66 chemicals, contact 
For a copy of "Broken Trust," contact CPR at pests@igc.org. 
Orders within California are free; all other orders cost US$5 
made payable to PANNA.

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