CNN’s Look at ‘Toxic America’

By Chris Ariens 

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This week CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta presents a two-night investigation into the effect toxic chemicals have on our health and the search for answers. “Toxic America” runs Wednesday and Thursday night at 8pmET on CNN.

Says Gupta, “As a father and a doctor, I wanted to know: how safe are these chemicals that are all around us. We want the best facts, the best science on safety for our families. That’s what I wanted to bring to our viewers.”

Press release after the jump…


CNN’s Dr. Gupta Leads Ambitious Investigation into the Impact
of Toxic Chemicals on Health

Two-night Special includes Toxic Childhood which examines how Pollutants affect our Children

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta helms a two-night special investigation, the result of a year-long, stunning look into toxic chemicals, health and the environment. On Wednesday, June 2 at 8pm, ET/PT Toxic Towns USA presents one town’s fight for survival amidst 14 chemical plants.

On Thursday, June 3, Dr. Gupta takes his search for answers to an all-star roundtable of experts who say widespread exposure to toxic chemicals begins even before birth. The team dissects the latest science on how to minimize risks to pregnant women and children from potentially harmful chemicals found in the air, in homes, and in common household products. The one-hour live special TOXIC
CHILDHOOD debuts at 8pm, ET/PT.

At the heart of TOXIC TOWNS USA are two “granny Erin Brockoviches” – women waging fierce battle against both industry and government with science and political action. Chemist-turned-environmental-activist Wilma Subra developed a “chemical fingerprint” test to trace toxic by-products from nearby factories. Life-long Mossville, La. resident Dorothy Felix tries to force local industry to take responsibility for the health issues of residents through state legislators and in town hall meetings with government regulators.
More than 8 in 10 Mossville residents report serious health problems including cancers, kidney disease, and other ailments. Residents of Mossville allege an “environmental crime” is taking place: that they are being taken advantage of by manufacturers – and ignored by government regulators – because they are mostly poor and African American.

Dr. Gupta finds evidence that reveals pollution from one plant was kept secret for years from the community, and he speaks with an industry whistleblower who describes extensive contamination of the plant’s facilities that left workers at risk, and environmental exposure to toxic chemicals for people living nearby.

Dr. Gupta challenges the manufacturers, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to explain the difference between current safety standards – which companies and regulators say are sufficient – and the health problems of residents in proximity to local plants.

“As a father and a doctor, I wanted to know: how safe are these chemicals that are all around us – even in the womb? Regulators and industry executives seem to take an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ approach to exposure, but I don’t think that is enough for most consumers. We want the best facts, the best science on safety for our families. That’s what I wanted to bring to our viewers,” says Dr. Gupta.

Digital users can submit iReports describing industrial or chemical pollution in their homes and communities. An interactive map will highlight state rankings for emissions of five common toxic chemicals – dioxin, mercury, lead, benzene, and vinyl chloride – reported by manufacturers to the Environmental Protection Agency at

Toxic Towns USA is a Sanjay Gupta, MD documentary produced by David S. Martin and Caleb Hellerman. Jeff Kepnes and Jim McGinnis produced Toxic Childhood. Roni Selig is the senior executive producer and director for the Health, Medical and Wellness unit at CNN.