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PCRM Expert Speaks at Covance Air Quality Hearing

Air pollution is already a health concern in the Phoenix area, but a new source of pollution may be on the way. A PCRM public health expert spoke out against animal-testing lab Covance’s proposed new facility at a public hearing hosted by the Maricopa County Air Quality Department in Chandler, Ariz., on April 30. PCRM’s senior medical and research advisor, Aysha Akhtar, M.D., M.P.H., spoke candidly to a crowd of more than 200 about the health problems that a Covance facility could bring to the county.

Covance has not yet disclosed how it will dispose of the animal carcasses from the thousands of animals it kills every year. The most likely waste disposal method is an incinerator. If built, a Covance incincerator would burn more than 100,000 animal carcasses containing concentrated levels of industrial chemicals, insecticides, pesticides, and experimental drugs, creating potentially dangerous emissions. Individuals living near incinerators could be exposed to toxic chemicals through inhalation of contaminated air, skin contact with or ingestion of contaminated soil, and consumption of contaminated food or water.

Dr. Akhtar and many local residents expressed serious concerns about the health problems associated with inhaling particulates from an incinerator at a facility like Covance. Children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing conditions, like asthma, respiratory disorders, and cardiovascular disease, are particularly vulnerable to developing related health problems.

While Covance has not yet filed for permission to build an incinerator, the Maricopa County Air Quality Department assured Dr. Akhtar and residents of Chandler and Maricopa County that a public hearing would be held if Covance refiles for an incinerator permit. The Maricopa County Air Quality Department has yet to approve Covance’s existing permit request, which covers boilers, emergency diesel generators, a cooling tower, and seven fuel storage tanks.

Chandler residents have many other reasons to be concerned about Covance coming to their city. Covance is a contract animal-testing company paid to test cosmetic ingredients, food additives, pesticides, and drugs on monkeys, dogs, rabbits, rodents, and other animals. Covance has been investigated and fined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture based on documented allegations of striking, choking, and tormenting primates at its Virginia facility. In December 2006, PCRM released a report detailing Animal Welfare Act violations at five Covance facilities around the country. Covance is also one of the world’s largest breeder of dogs for experimentation and the largest importer of primates.

For more than a year, PCRM has been working to help Chandler residents stop Covance from building in their community.


PCRM Online, June 2007

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