Toxic chemicals made by ExxonMobil attack children’s  health

(Houston, TX) Today, public health groups blasted ExxonMobil Chemical Company for blocking new restrictions on toxic chemicals that damage children’s health and pollute local communities.  

Outside its corporate headquarters, protesters unveiled a giant twenty-foot rubber ducky, a favorite bath toy often made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which contains toxic chemicals known as phthalates (pronounced ‘THA-lates’), which are produced by ExxonMobil at its Baton Rouge, LA factory.

“Exxon’s petrochemical plants were built around historic communities of color, and now Texas and Louisiana families are suffering from illnesses, such as asthma and cancer, linked to the toxic chemicals they release,” explains Juan Parras of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services.

“ExxonMobil should stop its toxic toying around with our children’s health,” said Mike Schade from the Center for Health, Environment, & Justice (CHEJ).  “Rather than lobbying government officials to protect their corporate profits at the expense of children’s health, ExxonMobil should invest in safer chemicals that are healthier for children, workers and communities.” 

“Shame on Exxon for hiding behind our broken federal chemical safety law,” said Kathy Curtis, LPN, a registered nurse with Clean and Healthy New York.  “Are they afraid of the science that links phthalates to birth defects of the penis, testicular cancer, decreased sperm count and infertility?”

Michele Roberts, with Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, based in Louisiana, continues, "Exxon and other petrochemical companies say they should be allowed to pollute with impunity because they provide jobs, but jobs at what cost? How is the health of the workers and their families? Why do they put their plants in historic communities of color? Why do they use their money, apparently, more to fund candidates that are fighting to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency than for developing safer products and making sure the communities around their plants are safe?”

Public health advocates cited aggressive lobbying by ExxonMobil Chemical Company:

  • ExxonMobil has lobbied the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to undermine the 2008 Congressional ban on phthalates in toys and children’s products;
  • ExxonMobil’s lobbying of the White House has delayed for more than 500 days a rule drafted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to name phthalates as Chemicals of Concern; and
  • ExxonMobil opposes Congressional approval of the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, which would overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the nation’s broken chemical safety law that was last updated 35 years ago.

The environmental health advocates demanded that ExxonMobil and other petrochemical corporations stop their efforts to block TSCA reform and support EPA’s efforts to enforce and update regulations meant to prevent illnesses and premature death.  A hearing on the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, sponsored by Senator Frank Lautenbergy (D-New Jersey), is scheduled for November 17, 2011 before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Asthma afflicts nearly 1 million children in Texas and accounts for almost 200,000 hospitalizations a year.  In the Houston-Galveston region alone, roughly 76,000 children suffer from asthma.  If companies that pollute don’t support real reform to reduce children’s exposure to chemicals and particulates, those numbers won’t go down. It must be the interest and responsibility of corporations to protect an innocent child’s right to breathe.

For more information and experts with direct contact info:

Available for Interviews

For Media assistance, contact Stephenie Hendricks 415 299-9510, or Karen Stevenson, (678) 422-4800, Bryan Parras, TEJAS, 713.303.5811, 

Juan Parras, Texas Environmental Justice Advisory Services (TEJAS), Houston, contact Bryan Parras, TEJAS, 713.303.5811, Both Juan and Bryan can line up personal stories of residents living near refineries who are sick from the chemical pollution.

Kathy Curtis, Clean & Healthy New York, (518) 708-3922. Albany, New York. Kathy can address Exxon’s role in fighting against environmental health protections in Congress and other states.

Mike Schade, Center for Health, Environment & Justice, New York. 718 873 3505 (cell), Mike Schade can address the manufacturing of polyvinyl chloride and the communities harmed by it, and the hazards PVC presents in everyday products.

Michele Roberts, Campaign & Policy Coordinator, Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, 504.450.8568, Michele can address TSCA policy issues and the impacts on communities in Mossville, Louisiana and other historic African American communities.

Richard Moore, Los Jardines Institute in Albuquerque, NM, 505.301.0276, Richard can talk about environmental justice issues and organizing in the Southwest.

Monique Harden, Esq, co-Executive Director of Advocates for Environmental Human Rights in New Orleans, LA and Washington, DC. 504.799.3060, Monique is an attorney with expertise on human rights and environmental legislation and judicial decisions in the U.S. and abroad. Her organization’s litigation on behalf of African American residents of Mossville, LA has led to a precedent by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, which decided for the first time to take jurisdiction over a case of environmental racism in the United States.

Cecil Corbin-Mark, Director of Policy Initiatives and Deputy Director for WE ACT for Environmental Justice (WE ACT) in New York, NY. 212.961.1000 ext. 303, Cecil can address environmental justice and chemical exposure issues.


ExxonMobil, Sourcewatch

Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS), Houston, Texas

Air Alliance Houston

Citizens for Environmental Justice, Corpus Christi, Texas

Community In-power & Development  Association, Inc. (CIDA)  Port Arthur, Texas

People Organized for Defense of the Earth and her Resources (PODER) Austin, Texas

Unreasonable Women of Texas (and beyond)

Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club

Advocates for Environmental Human Rights (AEHR) 

Texas and Toxics - Louisville Charter

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Toxic Tour (Texas)

BRYAN PARRAS is the Media/Youth Empowerment Coordinator for TEJAS (Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services) in Houston Texas, a co-producer of “Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say” (KPFT / Pacifica FM 90.1), and an advisor to the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health. He uses still photography and video production to document environmental racism and empower communities engaged in struggle for environmental justice. Formerly he served as director of photography/videography and chief editor for the Maria Luisa Ortiz Cooperative project in Mulukuku, Nicaragua.