Contact: Environmental Working Group (EWG) Public Affairs, (202) 667-6982
Pollution Found in Five Extraordinary Women Leaders
WASHINGTON, May 1, 2009 – An unprecedented two-year study commissioned by the
Environmental Working Group, funded by Rachel’s Network and conducted by four
independent research laboratories in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands has
documented up to 48 toxic chemicals in the blood of five prominent minority women leaders
in the environmental justice movement from Texas, Louisiana, California and Wisconsin.
Testing was targeted toward compounds that are heavily used in everyday consumer
products, but that have escaped effective regulation under the antiquated Toxic
Substances Control Act (TSCA). The results underscore the widespread and systemic
failure of current law to protect the public from chemicals, many of which persist in the
environment for decades or far longer, that are associated in animal studies with cancer,
reproductive problems and behavioral effects.
All five women were contaminated with flame retardants, Teflon chemicals, synthetic
fragrances, the plastics ingredient bisphenol A and the rocket fuel component
• Dr. Beverly Wright, a sociology professor and New Orleans native of African American
descent who became a leader in the environmental justice movement after a visit to “Cancer
Alley,” as many residents call the Lower Mississippi River Industrial Corridor. Her latest
book, Race, Place, and Environmental Justice After Hurricane Katrina, with Robert D. Bullard,
director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University and author
of Dumping in Dixie, the seminal work on environmental justice, will be published later this
• Suzie Canales, a Mexican American, founded Citizens for Environmental Justice to
investigate links between cancer and other diseases and toxics pollution from refineries and
landfills in her hometown of Corpus Christi.
• Jean Salone, an African American, cancer survivor and environmental justice
community organizer in Corpus Christi, was a key witness in a landmark case against the
CITGO refinery, convicted in 2007 of two felony violations of the federal Clean Air Act.
• Jennifer Hill-Kelley, environmental quality director of the 102.5-square-mile Oneida
Nation near Green Bay, Wisconsin, oversees cleanup of the reservation's fishing streams and
ground waters and works to restore the tribe's traditional fishery, polluted by PCBs, mercury
and other industrial chemicals dumped into nearby Fox River and Green Bay.
• Vivian Chang, former executive director of the Oakland-based Asian Pacific
Environmental Network, has fought for environmental justice for Asian immigrants,
organizing, among others, the Laotian community in Richmond, California, to address
pollution from a Chevron oil refinery.
EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information
to protect human health and the environment.