Bad Chemistry and Good Vibes

Bill Walsh of the Healthy Building Network was recently interviewed on the Grist Interactivtist website. His interview caught the attention of a "not a trade group".

The Grist -An InterActivist corrects the record and devoted readers ladle on the love -- some of them, anyway 25 Mar 2005

Re: It All Comes Out in the Walsh, InterActivist

Dear Editor:I would like to set the record straight. Bill Walsh identified the American Chemical Society as one of 1,000 "trade associations defending the rights of polluters." Walsh said he has a collection of "voodoo dolls" representing the "flacks" for these associations and after reading their daily press releases, he "adjusts the pins." Ouch! Correct the pins, please!For the record, the ACS is the world's largest scientific society with 159,000 individual chemists and chemical engineers, many of whom are working at the forefront of environmental science. ACS is a nonprofit -- not a trade organization -- chartered by Congress in 1876 to provide information about chemical research to Congress and to the public. The society publishes peer-reviewed scientific journals and databases, convenes research conferences, and provides educational, science policy, and career programs in chemistry. ACS issues press releases, but they are generally about peer-reviewed research that has appeared in one of its scientific journals.A correction in an upcoming Grist issue would be appreciated.

Charmayne Marsh
Manager, News and InformationOffice of Communications
American Chemical SocietyWashington, D.C.

Bill Walsh replies:

I screwed up.Chemistry is cool, and the American Chemical Society is teeming with cool chemists. The ACS is probably the last organization to use the "L" word describing its mission, "to encourage in the broadest and most liberal manner the advancement of chemistry in all its branches." They sponsor the Green Chemistry Institute. Their Code of Conduct specifies that "Chemists should understand and anticipate the environmental consequences of their work. Chemists have responsibility to avoid pollution and to protect the environment."I stand corrected and apologize to the ACS. There is no excuse, but there is an explanation. I confused the American Chemical Society with the American Chemistry Council. The latter is the anti-environmental trade association, which changed its name from the Chemical Manufacturers Association. I further confused myself when I learned that the vinyl and chlorine industry's top chemist apologist, Dr. Bill Carroll, had been elected president of the ACS. My mind's eye placed him at the American Chemistry Council, which seems much more compatible with his former roles with the vinyl and chlorine trade associations. So, I'm going to keep that ACS voodoo doll handy, just in case.

Bill WalshNational CoordinatorHealthy Building Network

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