(This page contains a great deal of information on developments in the union’s involvement with toxic carpet issues, including and beyond, its dealings with EPA management. A chronology – in great detail – of the toxic carpet issue at EPA Headquarters from July 1987 through January 1992 is here.Carpet Chronology)
Continued from Toxic Carpet Page.……EPA invited the union to sit as a member of the Dialogue panel with about 25 other entities that included the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), chemical companies, other Federal agencies, and independent experts. The Dialogue, begun in August 1990, proved in the end to be just another smoke screen for the carpet industry, and EPA abandoned the charge to the Dialogue to look for ways to control emissions. The carpet industry morphed the Dialogue into a marketing gimmick by mid 1992, eventually developing out of it what the industry called its “Green Tag” “greenwashing” of CRI’s program.
Charles Auer led the EPA team at the Dialogue, and he was later honored for having done so by the Carpet and Rug Institute trade association at their annual meeting that year:Auer and VanGelderen
The “Green Tag” program required carpet manufacturers to test one square foot of a carpet type per year for total emissions. If that single, one square foot sample passed the test, the entire year’s run of that carpet type was entitled to a “Green Tag”, which CRI said would, “tell consumers that the carpet or rug they buy meets the predetermined indoor air quality testing criteria.” Anyone with a modicum of experience in quality control – as Dr. Hirzy had from his 19-year career as a research and development chemist in industry – could see that testing a one square foot sample, once a year, could not possibly be an adequate method of assuring product quality in thousands of yards of carpet produced after the sampling, as claimed by CRI. The union filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in September 1992 over that CRI program, and in Congress there were subsequent demands that CRI abandon this advertising campaign.
This link to testimony given by Dr. Hirzy on October 2, 1992 before the Joint Ad Hoc Committee on Carpet Chaired by Senator Joseph Lieberman. It is a succinct summary of how EPA’s toxic carpet issue evolved in to the Carpet Policy Dialogue and how the collusion between EPA and the carpet industry played out during and after the Dialogue. Oct 2 1992 Testimony
The draft Management Plan: Carpet Crisis referred to in the October 2, 1992 testimony above is at this link.Mgmnt Plan Carpet Crisis It was prepared by union scientists and submitted June 9, 1988. EPA issued a draft plan in August 1988, but did not start its execution until mid 1989. It was then that management announced its decision to begin removing the offending carpet……the so far unused amounts remaining at Headquarters to be shipped to and installed in the EPA facility in North Carolina. Labor representatives put a stop to that plan.
After the situation at EPA HQ become widely known through press and TV coverage, the union received many requests for information from members of the public, particularly people who said they had been injured by new carpeting. This link lists the document that we provided in response. Carpet Info Pkg
During the Dialogue it became obvious – as is revealed in the “Smoking Gun” link -that the Carpet and Rug Institute was striving, apparently with EPA’s cooperation, to avoid having the Dialogue truly look into ways to minimize emissions, as the Federal Register Notice establishing it stated This link was one of NFFE’s representative’s effort to keep the Dialogue on a legitimate track, primarily by insisting that emissions be characterized chemical by chemical. CRI fought that.On the Need for Data
The Dialogue produced a public information brochure, the reading of which in conjunction with the “Smoking Gun article” on the Main Toxic Carpet Page, will provide a clear example of how the carpet industry successfully co-opted EPA and the Dialogue process. Carpet Brochure The union fought hard (documentation available on request) for brochure language that would acknowledge the results of the four volume study of EPA’s indoor air quality and employee health, but EPA and others refused such language. They also refused to list on the brochure NFFE Local 2050 as a source of information and as a contributor to the Dialogue process.
The following links are to documents related to how the dialogue was operated – by an EPA contractor, how elements of EPA worked to keep the union’s sources of information about toxic effects from becoming available to the general public, and how activities was presented at its annual meeting that followed the Dialogue.
Here is a contemporaneous report from the February 1993 Inside the Fishbowl that, among other things, illustrates the lengths EPA personnel were prepared to go provide cover for the carpet industry.Feb. 1993 FB Carpet
Early in 1993 Dr. Hirzy was invited by the conveners of “Indoor Environment ’93 – Conference and Exhibition” to represent NFFE Local 2050 on a panel that would discuss, on April 22, 1993, the Carpet Policy Dialogue. Indoor Env. 93 panel. Dr. Hirzy’s titled his presentation “Re-Inventing Government – and History'” and he sent it to the Conference conveners, copy to EPA management, with a request for official time to attend the Conference and make the presentation (“Re-inventing government” was a watch word of the newly installed Clinton Administration.) Indoor Env. 93 paper.
Inasmuch as the paper was never delivered at the Conference, it is worth a read – to see why EPA and the Carpet and Rug Institute were petrified at the though that it would be delivered. See below.
Several days before the Conference, Dr. Hirzy received a phone call from one of the conveners informing him, with obvious, painful embarrassment, “um’s and er’s,” that conveners had made a terrible mistake by assuming Hirzy was to represent EPA (note Hirzy’s affiliation on the speakers list in the link “Indoor Env. 93 panel,” above) on the Dialogue Panel, and uh, since he wasn’t an EPA representative, conveners had now asked Robert Dyer, an EPA manager, to be on the panel instead of him. “But,” the convener went on, “we will provide you with an opportunity to speak from the floor for three minutes.” Ron VanGelderen, President of Carpet and Rug Institute, couldn’t hide his S.E. grin as, from behind the panel table, he observed Dr. Hirzy sitting in the front row. Let’s all stand up and cheer for EPA’s integrity, er, collusion with the carpet industry, right to the bitter end.