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Caucus and Staff Reports :: March 11, 2009

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR): Problems in the Past, Potential for the Future?

Report by the Majority Staff of the
Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the
Committee on Science and Technology
U.S. House of Representatives
to Subcommittee Chairman Brad Miller

March 10, 2009

            Last April the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight held a hearing on the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a sister agency of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The hearing looked at how the agency produced a scientifically flawed and misleading health consultation on the health hazards of potential formaldehyde exposures by survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita living in travel trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Last September the Subcommittee issued a detailed staff report on our investigation which found that: “The leadership of ATSDR obfuscated their role in reviewing and approving the February 2007 health consultation and attempted to abdicate their own responsibility for the agency’s fundamental failure to protect the public’s health. Most disturbingly, as the agency’s troubled response to the formaldehyde fiasco unraveled, the leadership of ATSDR attempted to shift blame for the inappropriate handling of the incident to others, primarily [whistleblower Dr. Chris] De Rosa and his staff.”  Unfortunately, the poor scientific integrity of ATSDR’s formaldehyde health consultation and the weak leadership at the agency that permitted the production of this misleading report which went uncorrected for so long – keeping the public in harm’s way for a year longer than necessary – was not an isolated incident.  

 Read the full Staff Report >>

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