WASHINGTON, DC – The American Chemistry Council (ACC) and a group of 21 state lawmakers from 10 states have exchanged open letters concerning certain tactics of the U.S. chemical industry. The state senators sent a letter to Cal Dooley, head of the American Chemistry Council, asking him to take action against certain members whose practices they consider unethical. The legislators make up a group of public health advocates, all of which have taken steps to regulate toxic chemicals in their respective state legislatures.

In the letter to Dooley, legislators asked the ACC to take immediate action to address the behaviors of its member companies by expelling the members from their council or accounting for the member-company actions.

In May of this year, the Chicago Tribune ran a four-part investigative series, “Playing With Fire,” on flame retardant chemicals. The series discussed questionable practices in the industry.

The letter from state legislators calls on the ACC to “expel these unethical manufacturers from your industry trade group.” The companies identified in the Tribune article are Albemarle, Chemtura and ICL Industries. Legislators from the following states signed the letter: California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

Industry tactics described in the Chicago Tribune series included misrepresenting the science around flame retardant chemicals relating to both their effectiveness and their health risks; employing an expert witness who repeatedly invoked a questionable story of a child dying in a fire in order to justify flame retardant mandates; creating a group called “Citizens for Fire Safety” to counter the opposition to flame retardants among firefighters and health organizations; and using racial profiling to mislead community leaders about the impacts of toxic flame retardant chemicals.

In a June 5 letter to the legislators, the ACC responded by calling for reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act, saying that there is a lack of confidence in the EPA’s ability to regulate chemicals in commerce, which leads to concerns on the state level. 

The ACC letter also addressed the specific companies featured in the Tribune article, stating, “Albemarle, Chemtura and ICL Industrial Products have great confidence in their chemistries, supported by substantial testing and studies on safety and efficacy. However, they understand that the questions raised in the recent news stories should be addressed in order to dispel misinformation; therefore, each company plans to make available existing scientific information that supports the safety and efficacy of their products in the markets they supply. In addition, each company is committed to pursuing additional testing where warranted and is willing to partner with government authorities, such as the National Institute of Standards or other independent bodies, to undertake such testing.”