Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Congress Investigates Weinberg Group

The same congressional committee investigating steroid use in baseball is getting ready to examine an issue that directly relates to a Mid Ohio Valley controversy.

The Committee on Energy and Commerce is investigating the use of Bisphenol A in products intended for use by infants and children. The committee is trying to learn whether or not scientific evidence about the chemical has been manufactured by a public relations firm working for industry representatives.

As part of their investigation, the committee has asked the Weinberg Group to hand over documents and information relative to their handling of C8 or PFOA. In an April 2003 offer to DuPont, the Weinberg Group stated they could “harness, focus, and involve the scientific and intellectual capital of our company with one goal in mind – creating the outcome our client desires.”

Members of congress want to know what tactics were employed by the pr group to influence the public discussion about C8. As part of the services offered to DuPont, the Weinberg Group said they would facilitate the publication of scientific papers about C8, conflict out experts to keep them from consulting with plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit against DuPont, and reshape the debate about C8 to make it appear as though exposure results in real health benefits.

Bisphenol A and C8 are not related, but the Weinberg Group has done work to promote both chemicals.

Specifically, congress wants to understand the strategies used with C8 to learn how similar tactics may have been applied to Bisphenol A. On February 5, Committee Chairman John Dingell of Michigan asked the Weinberg Group to submit all of their records and emails on C8 within two weeks.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Letter to the Committee on Energy and Commerce

Dear Chairman John Dingell,

I was recently thrilled to learn of your investigation into the junk science sold by public relations companies related to such potentially dangerous substances as perfluorinated chemicals, like DuPont's PFOA or perfluorooctanoic acid. Without such a thorough examination into the matter, many like me fear that the truth about this contaminant and others may be extremely hard to come by.

By employing their proven tactics to the controversy impacting the Mid Ohio Valley, the Weinberg Group has promised the corporation positive results to the extent that they were willing to market PFOA as a substance that would actually benefit the heart health of the public. Nearly 250,000 people in Ohio and West Virginia have been consuming the Teflon manufacturing chemical that has seeped into public water supplies. Of those, 70,000 people have provided an independent panel with blood samples and health histories to serve as living guinea pigs in a long-term effort to study the possible implications.

The false evidence provided in this case by the Weinberg group and others is so far from reality that it threatens the viability of any truly independent effort. The EPA's Science Advisory Board has classified the substance as a "likely carcinogen" and industry is looking at the implications of workers with significantly elevated cholesterol levels.

My new book, "Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal", explores this topic in great detail, from the discovery of the contamination of southeastern Ohio water supplies to the ensuing precedent-setting lawsuit, which was the basis of the 70,000-person study previously mentioned. I would be happy to provide a copy for your reference.

However, since its publication, there has been further reason to believe that even the US Food and Drug Administration has been seduced by this corporate junk science. In findings released in 2005, CFSAN chemist Timothy Begley described the difficulty with which he extracted Teflon from frying pans for the testing of PFOA's potential to migrate into food. After taking a drill to the pans to remove the coating, Begley was able to extract only minimal amounts of the contaminant. However, by using far simpler methods Italian scientists were able to come up with substantially different findings. The Italians simply washed their pans and cooked in them a couple of times and their study detected the substance in their food.

Alone this would be insufficient to condemn the FDA, but last year Begley admitted that his research has also underestimated the ability of PFOA to migrate off of paper packing products – by more than 800 times.

Industry has committed to a global phaseout of the substance in manufacturing by 2015. But the products on the store shelves today are likely to insure the presence of the substance in our environment for the next 2,000 years.

All of these conclusions are publicly available.

I wish you well with your investigation and if I could be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me at your convenience.

Warmest Regards,
Callie Lyons

cc: Senator George Voinovich
Senator Sherrod Brown
Congressman Charlie Wilson
Congressman Zack Space