Introduction  Toxicity of carpeting installed in the Waterside Mall EPA Headquarters Building became a watershed issue for the union – begining in  Fall 1987 – in its role of protecting the employees it represented – and then in its role of protecting the health of the general public as EPA employees. Issues of our newsletter, Inside the Fishbowl, starting in 1987 and running through the mid 1990’s, show how the union responded to this call to duty. Among other actions, the union filed a petition under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act, asking EPA to take certain steps to protect is employees and the general public. EPA denied the petition and, instead, created the Carpet Policy Dialogue, inviting the union to participate. The Carpet Policy Dialogue Page contains links with more disturbing information on EPA’s dealings with the carpet and allied industries.

The following link is to testimony given at a hearing of an ad hoc Joint Congressional Committee hearing on October 1992 into EPA’s role and the union’s role on this issue

This link is to a presentation that was to have been made in 1993 at “Indoor Environment ’93 Conference and Exhibition. Defining Strategies for Effective  Indoor Air Management,” in Baltimore, MD. EPA and the Carpet and Rug Institute, together, made sure that it never saw the light of day. It is a succinct rendering of what happened when carpet was installed at EPA Headquarters in 1987-88.

Origin of the Issue In July 1987 the union and EPA reached signed an Indoor Air Quality agreement. Then in October EPA began installation of what was to become 27,000 square yards of new carpet in the workplace, mostly at Waterside Mall offices. Employees immediately began to complain of headaches, nausea and other symptoms which they attributed to carpet off-gassing of volatile organic material.

As more and more employees became sick, in early 1988, an EPA employee found a submission from the University of Arizona in the Agency files that record reports on significant environmental hazards.

After news of the EPA experience with toxic carpet became widely disseminated, Glenn and Sharon Beebe contacted the union about their similar experience, including how the carpet manufacturer responded to their complaints.  The Beebe’s published two accounts of their experiences titled Toxic Carpet I and Toxic Carpet II. They are chilling documents.

A chronology of the toxic carpet issue at EPA Headquarters from July 1987 through January 1992 is here: Carpet Chronology

Documentation of events during that  time and subsequently occurring is presented in the Carpet Policy Dialogue Page, as well as here.

Must Read. An analysis of the carpet problem at EPA HQ was done by Bill Hirzy and Rufus Morison, two union officer scientists.  That analysis formed the basis of a presentation at the 1989 meeting of the Society for Risk Analysis and a publication in the proceedings of that meeting.

In August 1988, Assistant Administrator Grizzle published management’s analysis of the situation as of July, along with plans for dealing with it,

Agency management also arranged for a survey of EPA HQ indoor air quality and employee health concerns to be conducted in concert with a similar one being undertake for other federal office buildings. The Survey was conducted by scientists from EPA, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Yale University, and Westat Co.; Supplements to Vols. I and II were produced by NFFE Local 2050 and AFGE Local 3331, representatives of EPA Headquarters employees. The unions also contributed to designing questions to be asked of employees in Volume I. The Supplements include case histories and  comments from EPA employees and Dr. Mark Bradley, an environmental health specialist hired by EPA during the carpet crisis. The Supplements also include memoranda exchanged by the unions and Dr. Bradley with EPA officials.

Here is a letter to Congressman Mike Synar, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment, Energy and Natural Resources, Committee on Government Operations that deals with a year’s worth of struggle with management over the toxic carpet issue, followed by a Request for Information on carpet purchases and installation at EPA HQ.Letter to Synar re carpet

Note in the following information request that management did not respond to requests 9, 10 and 11. Number 10 asked for copies of correspondence between EPA and the carpet manufacturer. This raises the question – as if it needed even to be raised, based on subsequent events – was idea of  denying the TSCA petition and setting up the Carpet Policy dialogue instead, to keep industry happy, arranged this far in advance?Info request re carpet

The links below, to documents generated 5 years after the EPA’s Carpet Policy Dialogue closed (See SubPage of that title), are a must read to understand the disgusting degree of collusion between the industry and EPA to protect carpet manufacturers from having to pay for injuries to an untold number of victims of toxic carpet emissions. The paper in the preceding link was given at an invited presentation to the 1993 Annual Meeting of the American College of Allergy and Immunology in Atlanta, GA.

The  Smoking gun article  and EPA’s non-response to information about a possible violation of TSCA section 8(e) TSCA 8(e) on carpet disturbingly illustrate, beyond even the extent shown in the Carpet Chronology, EPA’s willingness – eagerness? – to protect the carpet industry.  TSCA Section 8 (e) requires notification to EPA of information of the type discussed in the linked memo.

In the “TSCA 8(e) on carpet” link above, reference is made to “Hirzy’s bad batch theory of how carpet can cause adverse health effects.” That theory goes like this: some batches of S-B latex may have an especially high level of 4-phenylcyclohexene; that batch may go into a carpet production line, which includes passage of the latexed raw carpet through an oven to drive off the water (and some volatile organic compounds, e.g. styrene, 4-PC, etc.), thus “curing” the latex gluing process. The oven temperature may be too low, and/or passage time in the oven too brief, and/or air sweeping through the oven to entrain away the volatiles may be too cold or its volume too low, all or any one of which situations result in high residues of 4-PC and other volatiles and possibly poorly “glued” backing to the main carpet body.

Support for this theory lies in the compilation of a six-month’s worth of complaints about carpet received by the Carpet and Rug Institute. Carpet Complaint Log Note the top item in the right-most column, viz. “Delamination,” which means the backing separated from the main body, most likely (Ocam’s Razor) because of glue failure. There are more complaints about Delamination than any other category, and that is the only category that could be involved in leaving high levels of volatiles like 4-PC in the carpet because of insufficient “curing’ of the carpet in finishing ovens, which would have left 4-PC and other volatiles in the carpet.

Now, with all those (1387) cases of failed glueing in a 6-month period period, consider how many cases there may be of almost, but not quite faulty glueing that also may leave high levels of volatiles like 4-PC in the carpet. And consider the spreading of perhaps a couple hundred batches of carpet per month across the U.S.   Some people are going to get hurt.

EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance did not respond in any way to the union’s reporting, above, of a possible violation of section 8(e) of the Toxic Substances Control Act by elements of the carpet industry. That section of TSCA required entities, among other obligations, to report any information that “reasonably supports the conclusion that” substances which they “manufacture, process, or distribute in commerce” present a “substantial risk of injury to health…” Nothing but denials from the carpet industry of any knowledge of complaints about health effects from their products, and nothing but silence from EPA about the industry’s failure to report. Presumably that $9 billion/year industry was worthy of every protection EPA could provide, including looking the other way on a violation of law.

The Director of EPA’s Health and Safety Division, David Weitzman, admitted in a September 1989 Washington Times article that “The freshly manufactured carpet clearly caused the initial illness.” That was something the union had pointed out and had begun to take action on as soon as employees started getting sick, almost two years prior to Weitzman’s admission. During those two years of struggle, EPA continued to pretend that it couldn’t say for sure what had caused the problems, admitting to the union President, however, that the reason for playing dumb was to “avoid getting involved in lawsuits.” In April 1991, in conjunction with EPA’s denial of NFFE’s TSCA section 21 petition on carpet, Carpet TSCA Petition  EPA Petition Denial  In the Federal Register Notice of Denial EPA contended that no publications found could be found that might link carpet emissions to adverse health effects. Without searching beyond “carpet” and “adverse health effects,” this was found:

In the proportionate cancer mortality study, white male carpet workers who worked directly in carpet production areas, compared to similar residents of the five-county North Georgia region where carpet production is centered, had a proportionate cancer mortality ratio (PCMR) of 4.2  95% C.I. 1.7 – 7.7  Other white males who worked in the industry generally, also had a PCMR of 3.2  C.I.  1.0 – 7.5 for testicular cancer. Lymphocytic leukemia is linked to suppression of the immune system, which some physicians hypothesize to be involved in multiple chemical sensitivity. MCS was cited in our petition as an effect seen among EPA employees and members of the general public suffering from exposure to toxic emissions from carpet.

So much for a serious consideration of the merits of our petition.

EPA held a symposium titled “Methodology for Assessing Health Risks from Complex Mixtures in Indoor Air. During a break, Bob Axelrad, Director of the Indoor Air Division said to Drs. Carton, Hirzy and Morison, all union members, “Everyone knows that the new carpet made people sick,” stunning the union guys with his frankness. Morison, Carton and Hirzy subsequently executed an affidavit    Axelrad Affidavit testifying to Axelrad’s admission.  Axelrad also added, “So now I suppose you guys are going to try to use this sometime, huh?”

EPA also downplayed the occurrence of MCS among its employees, claiming that these employees only thought they were getting sick from carpet emissions. During that two year period, as the union made its fight over toxic carpet a matter of public record through various national and international media and the Congress, it received hundreds of phone calls and letters from citizens reporting similar incidents in their homes, work places and children’s schools. Many of these included heart-rending reports of induction of MCS, mimicking EPA employees’ experience.

Within six months of the first employee illnesses, union scientists had developed an investigative and risk control strategy to deal with bad quality carpet and tried to get EPA to use it, but with no perceptible success. (See Management Plan link on Carpet Brochure page) EPA fobbed off the major part of the task to CPSC, which in turn developed its own “investigative” process. The union President happened to be the Senior Scientist in the EPA Branch that was working with CPSC on the project. When he found that only $5000 had been allotted by the U.S. Government to conduct a nationwide investigation of citizens’ reports of carpet toxicity, and that EPA refused to use data it had collected on sick employees and emissions from the carpet out of fear of involvement in lawsuits, he wrote a memo to his boss decrying those ethical failures. It was apparent that EPA and CPSC were far more interested in causing no inconvenience to the carpet industry than in protecting the public from harm caused by bad product.

So the union took unique action – in January 1990 it filed a citizens’ petition under TSCA section 21 (see above) asking EPA to take specific regulatory actions to protect the public from the kind of injuries its own employees had suffered in their EPA offices. Here was a group of EPA scientists, whose jobs included assessing hazards, exposures and risks from toxic chemicals, writing a detailed justification and plan for EPA action to control risks from carpet emissions and compelling a response.

EPA declined to take on the carpet industry (and also the then extant White House Council On Competitiveness) by granting any of the relief sought in the union’s petition. An EPA official came to the union President’s office in April 1990 and told him that if it were to grant the relief, “It could cost the carpet industry billions of dollars.” (And he said he would deny ever having said that if he were ever questioned about it….Let’s hear it for the Lawyer Culture!) The reason for that being that if EPA were to make the finding of “unreasonable risk” that was necessary for EPA to take action, tort claims against carpet manufacturers would quickly flood the court system. Refer to the “Smoking Gun” link above for more on that point.

Here is a 1989 memorandum from EPA’s the Office of General Counsel defining “unreasonable risk.” OGC Unreasonable Risk

So, instead of making the “unreasonable risk” finding and granting any of the requested relief (including the modest request of requiring “manufacturers to maintain and present for inspection records of allegations of adverse health effects related to exposure to 4-PC or mixtures containing 4-PC,” – in essence show EPA all the complaints filed by consumers based on carpet emissions….see Carpet Complaints Log, above, with its revelation of “delaminations” complaints which point to incomplete oven “curing,” of carpet), EPA proposed creating a “Carpet Policy Dialogue,” which was to be charged with investigating carpet emissions and ways of controlling them. Did not happen.

In a September 1996 Louisiana tort action, the judge awarded $4.2 million to a consumer injured by carpet emissions who relied on television advertisements, that the Court found, “. . .do lead the viewer to believe. . .” that the carpet is warranted as safe. Cauberreaux Award

Immediately below is a communication from the union to newly confirmed EPA Administrator Carol Browner in 1993 summarizing the toxic carpet situation for her. Following that communication and the “attached letter” to Charles Auer, are notes added in 2010 updating the issue.


by J. William Hirzy

The attached letter to Charles M. Auer, Director of the Chemical Control Division, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, speaks to the latest developments in a large and nasty problem: the Agency’s culpability in contributing to the injury of many citizens, and its continuing lethargy in confronting carpet toxicity.

Time is Critical The time-critical aspect of the problem, which prompts this communication, is this: the Office of Research and Development is conducting “validation” studies to confirm January, 1993 results of its researchers and those of Anderson Laboratories in finding that (a large fraction of) carpet manufactured in the U.S. is capable of causing substantial injuries,  especially to children. The ORD experimental work will be done by end of March. EPA/ORD/OPPTS has told Congress that “true confirmation” will be forthcoming only by ca. June 30,1993, with ca. 18 months of other research into mechanisms required before the Agency can begin to undertake protective action. Various consumer advocacy groups and States Attorneys General plan to take dramatic action following the completion of the experimental work in March.

The problem has arisen out of five years’ lack of scientific insight and leadership and moral failure in the Indoor Air Division and the Existing Chemicals Assessment Division (ECAD) and their upward chains of command in the Offices of Air and Radiation and Toxic Substances/Pollution Prevention and Toxics, respectively. The Union will be happy to brief on the problem, its recent developments and its genesis at length, but we present a nutshell summary here along with an attached chronology, which succinctly lays out its history through early 1992.

Origin of the Dialogue The (Carpet Policy) Dialogue referred to in the Auer letter was a direct outgrowth of a petition filed in January, 1990 by Local 2050 under section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act. The petition was based on injuries to EPA employees and many citizens from toxic emissions from carpeting, and it was filed with reluctance after attempts to get EPA to forthrightly address the issue “through channels” failed. I was the Union representative to the Dialogue.

When EPA employees first complained in 1987-88 of new carpet-related sickness – and many of their first line managers complained with them and provided exemplary support – the Agency’s official position was articulated by the ECAD lead person on the project, to the effect, “The problem is psychogenic; that doesn’t mean they aren’t suffering, but there is no toxicological basis for the complaints.” (End Note 1)

EPA Fears Legal Entanglement The Agency began an investigation of the toxic carpet problem in mid-1988, following the “EPA Headquarters Incident,” and took a year to develop a draft strategy for the work. I was not permitted to be part of the project because I was Union president at the time. In my role as Senior Scientist in the Risk Analysis Branch, ECAD, however, I nevertheless reviewed the strategy and commented on it to my superiors and to the work group which developed it. My comments mentioned, among other short comings, the failure of the strategy to use the data EPA had gathered during 1988 – health complaints and air monitoring data. I was told by Jeff Davidson and Larry Rosenstein (ECAD/OTS) that those data would not be used because EPA did not want to get involved in law suits, and I was ordered to stay away from work group meetings on this project. Meanwhile, as EPA was undertaking its study of the issue, the Union – with its scientific resources – began one of its own as part of its representational duties to injured employees. (End Note 2)

Union Petition and EPA Denial In the face of EPA’s refusal to use a rich source of data because of fear of embroilment in legal action, the ethical failure this refusal represented with its attendant employee morale problems, and the clear danger to the public (End Note 3) that was not being addressed by EPA, the Union filed a citizens’ petition under section 21 of TSCA. The Agency denied the petition, publicly stating that the Union had not established scientific certainty that carpets were making people sick (as if that were the TSCA standard, which it isn’t), but privately telling the Union something else.(End Note 4)The Dialogue was convened instead of granting TSCA relief. It failed to produce much of value in public health protection, but did lead to a major advertising campaign (the Green Tag Program) by the carpet industry to which EPA, the General Services Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission lent the Government’s good name.(End Note 5)

Animal Research Concurrently with the industry/Government development of the Green Tag program during 1992, research in the laboratory of Dr. Rosalind Anderson was establishing that a standard pulmonary assay test, well known in toxicological circles, could be used to differentiate among “problem” and “non-problem” carpeting. At the same time, of course, Dr. Anderson was establishing the fact that some carpet, indeed was capable of causing measurable and reproducible, severe adverse effects – including death – in animals. During the spring and summer of 1992 the Carpet and Rug Institute and EPA continued to downplay the significance of Dr. Anderson’s work and to bring the Green Tag ad campaign on-line.

Victim Testimony A carpet victim, Mrs. Linda Sands, engaged Representative Sanders in her case during 1992. Rep. Sanders arranged for a hearing to be held under the auspices of Senator Lieberman’s Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Consumer and Environmental Affairs in October, 1992. At the hearing Dr. Anderson presented her work to date, which included, among other disturbing results, testing of random purchase samples. Three of thirteen samples, she reported, caused adverse effects. These results coupled with testimony from the Consumers’ Union, the State of New York, and Representatives Sanders and Mike Synar, were insufficient to move EPA off the position, in effect, that, “It would be unfair for EPA to require labels on all carpets, when only about twenty-five percent were capable of producing harm” (paraphrase of testimony by Mark Greenwood, Director, OPPT – tape recording available).

Dramatic Response to Publicity At the end of October, 1992 CBS’s “Street stories” ran a segment on toxic carpet that, according to the show’s producer, resulted in more telephone calls than they have ever had on any broadcast. The Union was featured in the broadcast as was Anderson Labs. The Union has received almost 100 calls as a result, and Anderson over 600. Many people report severe effects, including effects on their small children: seizures, convulsions, asthma induction, nausea, paralysis, etc.(End Note 6)

During the first week in January, 1993, EPA visited Anderson Laboratories for parallel studies on a sample of toxic carpet, and the two research groups produced essentially the same results, killing 25 percent of test animals (one mouse by each research group).

EPA Delays EPA met with Representative Sanders and staff members from other congressional offices on February 2, 1993 and stated that it would be the end of June before “true replication and validation” of Anderson’s methodology could be confirmed. After that, it would be at least a year and a half before enough was understood of the mechanisms involved for the Agency to take action. In the interim EPA is willing to revise the Dialogue Brochure language to the effect that some people have flu- or allergy-like reactions from carpet.

This is not going to fly. The pressure of laboratory research findings (End Note 7), EPA’s study of its own “Incident”, numerous reports of adverse effects in the files of many states’ Attorneys General, and outrage among hundreds of carpet victims will not permit so lackadaisical a program. EPA will find itself under siege on this issue – soon.

Those responsible for this debacle must be held accountable, and a vigorous research and regulatory action schedule must be forthcoming in weeks, not years, and it can be done. The TSCA petition of Local 2050 and EPA’s Federal Register notice creating the Dialogue provide a good starting point for such a program.

  1. To this day, Victor Kimm, Acting Assistant Administrator for Pollution Prevention, Pesticides and Toxics, articulates the Agency’s reason for finally removing the offending carpet and replacing it with a non-toxic version, after a long and bitter fight, to the effect as, “Keeping the unions happy; there is no basis in toxicology for the EPA policy of removing and not using carpet containing 4-phenylcyclohexene” (the chief suspect toxicant). This, notwithstanding these public statements by David Weitzman, then head of EPA’s Health and Safety Division ,and Bob Axelrad, still head of its Indoor Air Division, respectively, “The newly manufactured carpet clearly caused the initial illness…” (Washington Times September 15, 1989), and “Everybody knows the new carpet made people sick…” (Statement to Union officials at the Indoor Air Conference, Arlington VA, April, 1990). A four volume study of the “EPA Headquarters Incident” has been published by EPA et al., with a finding in Volume 4 that the presence of carpeting or carpet odors in the workplace is associated with reports of adverse effects among EPA workers. EPA’s press release upon release of Volume 4, which makes this link, does not even use the word “carpet” in its summary of the Volume’s findings.
  1. The Union’s work was subsequently reported at a meeting of the Society for Risk Analysis in October 1989 and published in The Analysis of Risk, Plenum Press, 1991.
  2. After the “EPA Incident” had drawn media attention, the Union was flooded with calls from the public reporting identical incidents in homes, schools, hospitals, etc. Reporting these calls to the Agency resulted in no perceptible change in EPA’s policy of “go slow, maybe this problem will fix itself”, as articulated in the 1989 investigative strategy. EPA continued, as late as mid1990 (and perhaps even until today), to down play the significance of this flood of complaints, saying they were “merely anecdotes”, and should not be the basis of any change in policy.
  3. In late March, 1990, several days before the Agency’s response to the petition was due, a representative from the Office of General Counsel, who said he would deny that the conversation had ever taken placed if he were questioned about it, told me that the Agency was not going to grant the petition because “it would mean billions of dollars to the carpet industry”. This could only have meant that tort liability would be easier to prove if EPA acknowledged the validity of the Union’s basis for seeking relief. Remedies under TSCA, such as mandating tests or warning labels or setting an indoor air quality standard could not conceivably have cost “billions of dollars”.
  4. The program puts a green tag on every roll of carpet of a “generic type”, of which hundreds of thousands if not millions of square yards are produced, provided that a single one square foot sample, taken once a year passes an emissions test. The program is patently fraudulent and dangerous, since a single sample, once a year qualifies thousands of rolls of carpet which have not been tested to bear the Green Tag. The Tag induces people to believe that the actual roll they buy has been tested, is safe, and could not possibly be the cause of any adverse effect. The Union has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, and a grievance with the Indoor Air Division/Office of Radiation & Indoor Air over the program.
  5. Union has heard these kind of reports for 5 years, passing them on – without effect – to EPA management, and they have affected Dr. Anderson profoundly.
  1. Professor Yves Alarie, University of Pittsburgh developer of the mouse pulmonary suppression assay used by Dr. Anderson, has independently obtained similar results in tests of carpet submitted by industry and consumers.

Letter from the Union to Charles Auer, EPA’s Chief Representative to the Carpet Policy Dialogue

NFFE Local 2050

February 8, 1993

Charles M. Auer, Director Chemical Control Division

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

401 M street, S.W. Washington, DC 20460

Dear Mr. Auer:

As a participant in the Carpet policy Dialogue and in the development of its Brochure, the National Federation of Federal Employees Local 2050, objects to the attempt to change the language of the Dialogue’s Brochure without notification to and soliciting the views of all Dialogue participants.

We are submitting comments on the proposed changed health effects language, and expect that they will be considered along with and of equal weight with the comments of all other Dialogue participants. We further expect that the consensus process used in Dialogue’s 14 months’ proceedings will be applied to development of the new Brochure language. That is, we do not consent to EPA’S unilateral “blending” or “informal vote taking” among commenters to develop new language. If use of the consensus process requires meetings of participants, we expect that you will see that these take place in Washington, DC., and that you will extend an invitation to all Dialogue participants to participate in the process and provide means for their doing so, if necessary.

In the event that EPA declines to accept Local 2050’s participation in the language revision process, or uses other than a consensus process for developing new language, the Union objects to issuance of a revised Brochure (End Note 1) on the grounds that the exercise will have been a violation of the Federal Advisory Committees Act. The Agency formed a Federal Advisory Committee, the Dialogue, in lieu of remedies under sections            4, 6, 8  and 21 of the Toxic Substances control Act. The ad hoc exclusion of Local 2050, an original charter member of the Dialogue and an official invitee to it in the Federal Register notice creating it, breaks the charter of the Dialogue.

Local 2050’s right to participate in changing the Brochure’s language stems not only from our participation in the Dialogue, our role in as a co-developer of the Brochure’s original language, our documented insistence upon adequately addressing health risks in the Brochure, and our role as originator of the Dialogue through our submission of the TSCA petition of January 11, 1990. Local 2050’s right to participate also stems from our participation in the October 1, 1992 hearings before Senator Lieberman’s Subcommittee, via submission of testimony which is on the record. In your letter of January 28, 1993 soliciting comments on proposed new language, you state that, “EPA needs to assure that we are responsive to the substantive issues as raised by the Senator and others that participated in the October hearing.” “Others” includes Local 2050.

Comments on Brochure Language RE: Health Effects Based upon the research findings of Dr. Anderson and EPA and upon testimony given at the October 1, 1992 hearing, the subject language should read:

“Some people react adversely to carpet systems emissions. These reactions include upper respiratory and eye irritation, headache, nose-bleeds, central nervous system effects such as memory loss, seizures, convulsions, and tingling sensations, and allergy-like reactions such as skin rashes and burning around the nose and mouth. Some people also develop permanent hypersensitivity to many environmental contaminants such as perfumes, auto exhaust, household cleaning compounds, etc. When exposed to minute traces of these contaminants, hypersensitized people experience some or all of the symptoms mentioned above. Not everyone exposed to carpet emissions experiences adverse effects or becomes hypersensitized.

“Scientists have yet to determine why only some people are affected and what specific chemicals may be responsible for these effects, though one component of the latex used to bind face fibers to backing in most carpets, as been shown to cause severe, adverse central nervous system effects and death in test animals. Epidemiology studies show that carpet production workers have elevated death rates from leukemia and other cancers.

“The Federal government and private laboratories are undertaking a major research effort to further evaluate the problem and help determine the steps necessary to prevent injuries to citizens. Until the research is complete it is prudent to reduce exposure to emissions from carpet and other sources indoors.”

I look forward to a lively and fruitful discussion among Dialogue participants as the necessary changes to the Brochure language are developed.

Lacking a consensus on such changes that will adequately begin to control risks, Local 2050 expects that EPA will, as it promised in the Federal Register notice of April 24, 1990, take appropriate, immediate steps under TSCA to protect the public. Such steps would include prompt, public retraction of the existing Brochure and its replacement by one bearing adequate warning language.


/s/ J. William Hirzy, President-Elect

cc: Senator Joseph I. Lieberman

Representative Bernard Sanders

Representative Mike Synar

U.S. Federal Trade Commission


  1. If new Brochure language is not agreed upon in a consensus process, Local 2050 expects that, in the face of events over the past year, the “old” Brochure will be publicly retracted because of its false and misleading information regarding health effects.

…………………………….Further Developments as of 2010………………………….

This note is being added in October 2010 for historical purposes and includes some explanatory material and identification of certain individuals. Union newsletters, Inside the Fishbowl, from that period contain more detailed narratives.

  1. Charles Auer was the original EPA convener of the “Carpet Policy Dialogue,” of which an independent contractor completed a critical history following its completion. The EPA HQ professionals union has a copy in its files along with detailed records and documents from the Dialogue’s proceedings.
  2. The complaint to the Federal Trade Commission mentioned toward the end of the memo to Administrator Browner yielded no tangible result. Inquires made by me of the Commission, which included clippings from newspapers and magazines showing how the Carpet and Rug Institute’s advertising campaign successfully misled journalists into writing exactly the distorted view of the so-called quality control program “Green Tag” that the union complained about.
  3. Reference is made to EPA’s denial of our TSCA section 21 petition being based on EPA’s finding that we did not prove with “scientific certainty” that the carpet caused the observed effects and problems. In my files is a copy of an August 22, 1989 memorandum written by James Curtin, Attorney, of the Pesticides and Toxic Substances Division of the EPA Office of General Counsel titled, “Use of a Pollution Prevention Rationale to Support an Unreasonable Risk Finding Under TSCA Section 6.” In the memorandum Curtin states, among other things, on page 2, “The legislative history and judicial interpretations of Section 6 indicate that the ‘reasonable basis’ test is satisfied by a quantum of evidence significantly below the level of demonstrating scientific certainty.” My emphasis added – JWH

The EPA “validation” of the results EPA technicians achieved while working at Anderson Laboratories was a travesty of good laboratory practice. While at Anderson, both the Anderson people and the EPA people used the ASTM method developed by Yves Alarie  for producing carpet vapor to which test animals were subjected. When EPA re-ran the inhalation irritation study in its own laboratories the technicians modified the method by passing the vapors generated according to the Alarie ASTM protocol through a water bath prior to subjecting the animals to the vapors. No adverse effects were seen in these modified tests. However, when Lynn Anderson repeated the EPA water-bath method in her laboratory, then injected the test animals intraperitonealy with an aliquot of the collected water-bath fluid…they died.         JWH October 13, 2010)