Dioxin Developments

May 31, 2015

House Bill Proposes to Study Health Effects of Dioxin in Feminine Hygiene Products

A New York Congresswoman has reintroduced legislation directing the National Institutes of Health (“NIH”) to research whether feminine hygiene products that contain dioxin, among other things, pose health risks.

The bill, the “Robin Danielson Feminine Hygiene Product Safety Act” (H.R. 1708), sponsored by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), would require the NIH to determine through research whether feminine hygiene products with dioxin, synthetic fibers, and chemical additives such as chlorine, colorants, and fragrances are dangerous.

The bill also would have the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) broaden its monitoring efforts and publicly disclose a list of contaminants within the wide range of feminine hygiene products. According to Congresswoman Maloney, the FDA currently monitors dioxin levels in raw materials and finished tampons but does not presently do so for other hygiene products such as pads, liners, cups, sponges, and sprays.

The legislation is endorsed by The Society for Menstrual Research, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Naturally Savvy, Teens Turning Green, Search for the Cause, Annie Appleseed Project, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (“COLOR”), and Women’s Voices for the Earth.

Congresswoman Maloney first introduced similar legislation in the 105th Congress with the Tampon Safety and Research Act of 1997. In 1999, Congresswoman Maloney introduced the Robin Danielson Act. Subsequent versions of the bill were introduced in 2003, 2005, 2008, 2011, and 2014.

Vietnam Veterans of America Challenges V.A. on Reservists Allegedly Exposed to Herbicides

The Vietnam Veterans of America (“V.V.A.”) is contending that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has turned its back “on reservists who suffer from disabilities as a result of their exposure on contaminated C-123 aircraft” following the Viet Nam War.

According to the V.V.A, the V.A. has taken the position that these reservists did not qualify as “veterans” under 38 U.S.C. §§ 101(2) and (24) but, instead, has asked Congress to pass legislation.

V.A. Secretary Robert McDonald “has the statutory authority, supported by agency-binding legal opinions issued by the V.A. Office of General Counsel, to immediately grant these reservists service-connected disability as a result of their exposure to Agent Orange,” the V.V.A. said.

Connecticut Senator Blumenthal Proposes Legislation Establishing Toxic Substances Research Center

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is co-sponsoring legislation that would require the government to inform veterans if they have been exposed to toxic substances and that would create a research center to study the descendants of these veterans for signs of illness.

The Senator, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, was quoted as saying that “the dimensions of the problem are unknown at this point” but that, “we know the toxic exposure is there. Science indicates it can cause genetic effects,” including brain and blood cancers.

The Senator said that he was acting based on “concerns that were expressed very dramatically and vehemently by veterans themselves,” who “don’t know if they’ve been exposed.”

The research center proposed by the bill would be established in a Department of Veterans Affairs medical center.

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