Reducing and Monitoring the Use of Toxic Materials in Production by the Departments of Defense

  • Date: Jan 01 1992
  • Policy Number: 9205

Key Words: Military, Toxic Substances

The American Public Health Association,

Finding that the US military is a major consumer of hazardous materials. Military purchases directly account for 13% to 16% of the US final-demand chemical market.1,2 In addition, military contractors, particularly weapons manufacturers, are major buyers of chemicals and other hazardous materials. For example, in 1986 the US military and its contractors purchased half of the 150 million pounds of CFC-113 (chlorofluorocarbon-113, also known as Freon) used in the US; CFC-113 vapors break down the ozone layer;3 and

Finding that military purchases are guided by military procurement specifications that apply both to purchases by the military and by its suppliers. Often contractors are prepared to shift to less hazardous materials, but are hamstrung by regulations;4 and

Understanding that military purchasing comprises such a large portion of the US economy that major pro-environment shifts in Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Energy (DOE) purchasing rules could help to redirect industrial practices throughout the US; and

Noting that the DOD is responsible for more than 17,660 toxic waste sites at 1,877 facilities and spends less than 1% of its annual budget on environmental restoration, and that there is no assurance that the funding requested for clean-up will be appropriated;5 and

Having previously addressed the issue of prevention of environmental disease and victim compensation in APHA Policy Statement No. 8415(PP);6 and

Having previously recognized the need to increase community awareness of toxic hazards in relation to “right-to-know” laws in APHA Policy Statement No. 8416(PP);7 and

Having previously recognized the health hazards of nuclear weapons facilities8 and the needs for those facilities to be responsive to the states in which they are located;9 therefore

  1. Supports legislation and regulations that:
    (a) Make the DOD and DOE subject to all environmental protection laws; and
    (b) Require every military installation to begin reporting its toxic chemical releases to the air, water, and land under the Toxic Release Inventory of the Community Right-to-Know Law; and
    (c) Provide adequate funding to clean up toxic waste sites on facilities of the DOD and DOE and on sites where the facilities have been closed, and provide safety and health training for workers to conduct clean-up activities.
  2. Urges that the DOD:(a) Review all military specifications requiring the use of toxic or dangerous chemicals and plan to eliminate on a set timetable chemicals that cause or probably cause cancer, birth defects, genetic mutations, neurological problems, and other serious health problems. In addition, DOD and DOE should use their procurement power to require the purchase of nonpolluting vehicles, photovoltaic cells, recycled paper, and other goods; and(b) Establish a clear line of responsibility and authority for pollution prevention and environmental clean-up within DOD and DOE; and(c) Actively pursue adequate, permanent disposal facilities for radioactive, hazardous, and mixed wastes.

References

  1. Interindustry Economics Division, US Commerce Department. The input-output structure of the US economy, 1977. Annual input-output counts of the US Economy 1982. Survey of Current Business. May 1984;57.
  2. Interindustry Economics Division, US Commerce Department. The input-output structure of the US economy, 1977. Annual input-output counts of the US Economy 1982. Survey of Current Business. May 1989;39.
  3. Parker WH III. CFC’s and halon use reduction within the Department of Defense. Presented at United Nations Environmental Programme seminar, October 20, 1988.
  4. The Pentagon now recognizes, in principle, that many of its specifications for products are environmentally unsound, and it is taking steps to change some of them. For example, the armed services and the Defense Logistics Agency have reviewed 50 specifi-cations calling for cadmium coating, and they are proposing substitutes, such as zinc, for each one (DERP Annual Report for FY 1989, p. 18).
  5. Siegel L, Cohen G. The US military’s toxic legacy. New Solutions. Winter 1991; and DOD, Defense Environ-mental Restoration, Annual Report to Congress for FY 1991. February, 1992; and Touching Bases, Volume 2, Number 1, March 1992.
  6. American Public Health Association. Public Policy Statement No. 8415(PP): Compensation for and Prevention of Community Environmental Disease. APHA Public Policy Statements, 1948-present, cumulative. Washington, DC: APHA, current volume.
  7. American Public Health Association. Public Policy Statement No. 8416(PP): Increasing Worker and Community Awareness of Toxic Hazards in the Workplace. APHA Public Policy Statements, 1948-present, cumulative. Washington, DC: APHA, current volume.
  8. American Public Health Association. Public Policy Statement No. 8917: Public Health Hazards at Nuclear Weapons Facilities. APHA Public Policy Statements, 1948-present, cumulative. Washington, DC: APHA, current volume.
  9. American Public Health Association. Public Policy Statement No. 8407: Accountability of the Nuclear Industry to State and Local Governments for Radiation Injuries. APHA Public Policy Statements, 1948-present, cumulative. Washington, DC: APHA, current volume.

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