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---December 21, 1987---
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Gramm-Rudman budget cuts have forced the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) Office of Toxic Substances (OTS) to discontinue its National Human Monitoring Program (NHMP). For more than 15 years, the program has collected data on the accumulation of toxic substances in human body fat. The program provided EPA with its primary data for determining the long-term toxic effects of chemicals on humans and therefore for prioritizing the agency's chemical regulatory programs. Without the NHMP, the EPA will "virtually go back to guessing" about which chemicals pose the greatest threat to humans, says Martin Halper, the director of the Exposure Evaluation Division within OTS. Mr. Halper points out that NHMP data, showing that PCBs were showing up in human tissues in the 1970s, were "instrumental" in Congress's banning of PCB production. Mr. Halper says the program took a long time to develop its nationwide network of medical examiners and pathologists; therefore, he says, it will be "difficult if not impossible" to resurrect the program if funds become available later. The program's annual budget was $1.1 million before the Reagan adminstration cut it to zero. Contact Martin Halper, OTS, EPA, 401 M Street, SW, Washington, DC 20460; phone (202) 382-3866.

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