Friends of the Earth: Secret Move to Cut Ozone Protection Puts American Health at Risk

Contact: Jessica Vallette, 202-783-7400, ext. 227, or Mark Whiteis-Helm, 202-783-7400, ext. 102, both of Friends of the Earth

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The health of every American could be at risk if funds earmarked for ozone protection are cut from the VA, HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations bill.

Reps. Walsh and Young have inserted language that would cut U.S. support for a fund that assists 124 developing nations in avoiding ozone-depleting chemicals (language is buried deep in Committee Report No. 106-286 to accompany HR 2684).

This bill would eliminate U.S. contribution to the ozone fund (known as the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances). Without this Fund, many developing countries will not be able to meet the mandatory freeze in CFC use that begins this year. Continued usage of CFCs is leading to increased incidences of skin cancer, cataracts and immune system suppression.

"This is a disastrous erosion of environmental protections that ensure the health and safety of every American," said Dr. Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth. "The actions of Appropriations Chairman Young and Subcommittee Chairman Walsh are unconscionable considering the link between deadly cancers like melanoma and ozone depletion."

According to the American Cancer Society, the most deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma, is one of the fastest growing cancers in the U.S. Non-melanoma skin cancers are also on the rise; in 1994 roughly 900,000 cases were diagnosed, 1,200 of which proved fatal. Skin cancer rates have risen in recent years because CFCs destroy the ozone layer that shields the earth from harmful ultraviolet rays.

In 1998, the Antarctic Ozone Hole was the largest, deepest and longest lasting on record. Coupled with scientific concern that ozone depletion is expected to reach its worst levels during the next few decades, adhering to the mandatory CFC freeze is crucial to protect human health.

"Chairmen Walsh and Young are jeopardizing our health and sacrificing our right to enjoy the great outdoors. Without money for ozone protection," said Jessica Vallette, atmosphere campaign director for Friends of the Earth, "everybody will get burned."

-0- /U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/ 08/27 09:53

Copyright 1999, U.S. Newswire

Register for reporter access to contact details