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Angry Dispute Boils Around Deukmejian's Toxics Listing

March 15, 1987|PAUL JACOBS | Times Staff Writer

However, some of those who are critical of the governor's initial list of Proposition 65 chemicals are encouraged by his choice of scientific advisers. Two of the members were recommended to the Administration by environmental groups, vice chair Alice S. Whittemore, a Stanford University environmental scientist, and Brenda Eskanazi, an associate professor at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.

"The panel is not bad at all," asserted one state scientist, who asked not to be identified.

"The short list (of cancer-causing chemicals) is a temporizing political position that wins some points with the governor's usual constituencies," the scientist said, adding that the panel could well end the legal battle over Proposition 65 simply by adding the disputed chemicals.

But another state scientist worries that the group will go through a chemical-by-chemical review of all the substances identified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Toxicology Program, including those where the only evidence is from animal studies. That would mean a long delay, perhaps as long as a year or more, in fully implementing the initiative.

"Once we have pretty good evidence that a chemical is a hazard then we ought to reduce the exposures," this scientist said. "Let us not wait to prove that there is a human health problem and then say, 'We'd better do something.' "

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