The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Kathleen Sutcliffe, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext 235

Judge Rejects Industry Legal Filings in Toxics Right-To-Know Case

Household cleaner giants violated court procedure, case postponed until October


A New York State Supreme Court judge today rejected legal briefs
filed by household cleaning giants Procter & Gamble,
Colgate-Palmolive, Church and Dwight and Reckitt-Benckiser in a
right-to-know case filed by environmental and public health advocates.

Oral arguments in the case were scheduled to begin today. But during
a pre-hearing conference, Justice Richard Braun stated that lawyers for
industry had violated court procedure, filing a motion-to-dismiss brief
that exceeded the maximum page limit. Justice Braun tossed the brief
and rescheduled oral arguments in the case for October 15.

The manufacturing giants are refusing to follow a New York state law
requiring them to disclose the chemical ingredients in their products
and the health risks they pose. Independent studies show a link between
many chemicals commonly found in cleaning products and health effects
ranging from nerve damage to hormone disruption. With mounting concern
about the potential hazards of chemicals in these products, advocates
are defending consumers' right to know and asking companies to follow
the law.

Ingredient disclosure requirements are virtually non-existent in the
United States. The exception is a long-forgotten New York state law
which requires household and commercial cleaner companies selling their
products in New York to file semi-annual reports with the state listing
the chemicals contained in their products and describing any company
research on these chemicals' health and environmental effects.

The first-of-its-kind lawsuit
could have national implications and comes as momentum builds
nationally and internationally for toxics chemical reform. On the
domestic front, advocates are awaiting Congressional re-introduction of
the Kid Safe Chemical Act which would force the chemical industry to
prove the safety of a chemical before approving it for use in products.
And internationally, companies are preparing to comply with similar
European regulations (known as REACH) already taking effect.

The nonprofit public interest law firm Earthjustice brought the
court case on behalf of a coalition of state and national groups,
including Women's Voices for the Earth, Clean New York, Environmental
Advocates of New York, New York Public Interest Research Group,
Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, and American Lung Association in New York.

See if the manufacturers of your favorite cleaning products have complied with the law

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities.