New ruling sought on carcinogen

Aisle of cubicles at an office

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: Today, the watchdog group Public Citizen will ask a court to throw out a rule concerning hexavalent chromium. That's the carcinogen spotlighted in the movie Erin Brockovich:

Erin Brokovich's partner: Everything the Jensens have had -- is proven reaction to exposure to hexavalent chromium -- they have had:

Erin Brokovich: Breast cysts, uteran cancer, Hodgkins Disease, immune deficiencies, asthma, chronic nosebleeds . . .

Skeptic: A million things could have caused those problems.

As we know now, it wasn't a million different things. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Sam Eaton reports.


Sam Eaton: The fight to reduce workplace exposures to hexavalent chromium goes back a decade and a half. It eventually led to a court-ordered rule change.

The problem, according to labor unions and Public Citizen, is that the new regulation is too lax. According to the government's own estimates, up to 5 percent of exposed workers will die of lung cancer.

Public Citizen attorney Scott Nelson says asking the courts to overturn the rule now makes it much easier for the next administration to issue a new one.

Scott Nelson: It takes much more to change a rule that's already in existence than it does to consider a rule when a court has already held that the existing rule is unlawful.

Without that court order, Nelson says changing the chromium regs could take as long as a year.

I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

About the author

Sam Eaton is an independent radio and television journalist. His reporting on complex environmental issues from climate change to population growth has taken him all over the United States and the world.

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