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      WHO: Chemicals are the Next Tobacco?

Posted 23 JULY 2004 by Lauren Sucher

According to a July 10 Lancet article 
<>, "chemicals could be the 
next tobacco for WHO," meaning that officials at the World Health 
Organization (WHO) are taking the link between toxic chemicals and human 
health very seriously. The author interviews several experts worldwide, 
including Dr. Philip Landrigan of Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, who 
worked with EWG on our investigation of chemicals in people. Landrigan 
states that asthma, childhood cancer, learning disabilities and birth 
defects -- which can all be linked to chemicals in the environment -- 
are on the rise. Now, the WHO appears to be gearing up for a major fight 
with the chemical industry as it sets more rigorous standards for safety 

The WHO is composed of volunteer scientists and researchers from around 
the world, who meet annually to advise member countries on public health 
issues. Its policies are not laws, but they are conceived by what may be 
considered the world's top health experts. The Washington Post 
<> reported on July 21 that 
some 24 per cent of WHO advisors come from North America.

The Post story describes a Bush administration attempt to politicize 
this prestigious panel. Administration officials have asked the WHO to 
reverse its policy and allow them to choose the scientists who will 
advise WHO. Official WHO policy is that WHO invites experts to join, and 
that those experts may represent their own views only, not those of an 
institution or government. The Bush administration wants American 
experts to represent its own policies, rather than focus on public 
health issues from a broad, purely scientific perspective.

To find out about how the Bush administration has hobbled efforts for 
safer chemical policies, please visit

To read more about EWG's work on how many chemicals are found in people, 
please visit

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