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Press Releases :: April 11, 2008

Subcommittee Investigates CDC’s Handling of Beryllium Exposure Investigation

(Washington, DC) In a letter sent this week, the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Technology asked Dr. Julie Gerberding, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for documents related to the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR) handling of an investigation into potential off-site beryllium exposure to the public from the Brush Wellman beryllium manufacturing facility in Elmore, Ohio. 

Documents obtained by the Subcommittee raise serious concerns regarding ATSDR’s involvement in the Elmore beryllium investigation and whether political pressure led to the agency scaling down or canceling its beryllium tests.   These documents, and past investigations by the subcommittee, raise serious questions about ATSDR’s ability or willingness to protect the public from potential health hazards in the face of outside pressure.

The agency’s stated mission “is to serve the public by using the best science, taking responsive public health actions, and providing trusted health information to prevent harmful exposures and disease related to toxic substances.”  

Subcommittee Chairman Brad Miller (D-NC) said, “The leadership of this agency appears not to have understood their mission on more than one occasion.   Cancelling or limiting tests for toxic substances because of political pressure is incompatible with their duty to conduct independent, scientifically rigorous health investigations.  The American people expect and deserve better, and so does Congress.” 

Last week, agency officials testified before the Subcommittee on their botched handling of a flawed and incomplete February 2007 Health Consultation on the levels of formaldehyde in travel trailers and mobile homes for survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).   

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