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Tommy Thompson Stacks CDC For Lead Industry 

Email 8oct02

Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson

For the first time ever, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, has overruled the nominations of the CDC staff for membership on the CDC Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention (ACCLPP). Instead, Secretary Thompson has named his own appointees, including several people with close lead industry connections. The rejected nominations include Dr. Michael Weitzman, Pediatrician in Chief at Rochester General Hospital; Dr. Bruce Lanphear, Sloan Professor of Children's Environmental Health at the University of Cincinnati; and Dr. Susan Klitzman, Associate Professor of Urban Public Health at Hunter College.

Historically the ACCLPP has provided science-based advice to inform CDC's policies to prevent lead poisoning and it has been instrumental in setting federal lead poisoning screening and prevention policies. The committee has always included subject-matter experts, researchers, and public health practitioners.

Secretary Thompson's appointees include several people who work directly for the lead industry. Dr. William Banner is a witness for the lead industry in the Rhode Island trial against lead paint manufacturers. In his deposition, he testified that blood lead levels between 70 and 100 do not pose a risk to children's health. Dr. Joyce Tsuji is a consultant whose corporate clients include ASARCO, DuPont, and King & Spaulding, a law firm representing several lead companies. She testified for industry in a class action lawsuit disputing the need for medical monitoring in the vicinity of a lead smelter. Dr. Kimberly Thompson is affiliated with the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis whose funders include 2 defendants in the Rhode Island case and 22 other companies that have released lead in the environment.

Rep. Edward Markey, Rep. Eddie Bernice-Johnson, and Rep. Waxman have written to Secretary Thompson opposing the unprecedented effort to stack the scientific advisory board with candidates with financial ties to the lead industry. Several scientists joined the Representatives in a news conference on October 8 to emphasize the importance of independent scientific advisors.

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