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Who is the face of the chemical industry?

Posted on November 19, 2012

Joe-facebookBy Lindsay Dahl

We recently learned some startling things about the chemical industry. Since 2005 they have spent $375 million dollars on elections and lobbying Congress. In just the third quarter of 2012, the chemical industry trade association spent $3.48 million dollars lobbying Congress to block reform. And in the first six months of this year, Dow Chemical spent $6.57 million dollars lobbying Congress.

Enter, Joe Chemical.

You may be wondering, who is this guy? He made his public debut this summer and I thought it would be helpful to paint a fuller picture of this cat (or should I say camel?) - who he is and why you should join us to defeat him.

You see, Joe Chemical grew up like the rest of us. He had a tough older brother who ditched class to smoke cigarettes behind the bleachers. He razzed his younger siblings, but talked smooth with all the ladies. Little Joe looked up to his older brother a lot. You probably know him too… Joe Camel.

Things went awry for both Joes; they got sucked into the business of greed and deception.

As you may remember, Joe Camel was the face for Big Tobacco for over two decades. The use of Joe Camel by the tobacco industry was so effective that in 1991, children age six could equally identify that Joe Camel was associated with cigarettes, as the Disney logo was with Mickey Mouse.

In his shadow, followed his younger brother. Joe Chemical had big shoes to fill, but well versed in the game of deception. It wasn’t just the cartoon charm that was effective.

Critics have called the chemical industry the new “Cancer Lobby,” citing that carcinogens have their own representation in Washington. The chemical industry is using the same maneuvers the tobacco industry did years ago, including: distorting the science on chemicals, creating front groups to fool the public and elected officials, spending millions of dollars in lobbying and campaign ads, and blocking regulations in Congress every step of the way.

Here’s just a taste of what Joe Chemical has been up to:

  • He beat up on government scientists who classified formaldehyde as a human carcinogen, even though the classification wasn’t linked to any regulatory action.
  • Spent $375 million of dollars lobbying Congress since 2005 and made campaign contributions to candidates running for office. Read the Common Cause report on their toxic spending here.
  • The chemical industry trade association spent $3.48 million dollars lobbying Congress in the third quarter alone in 2012!
  • And Dow chemical spent $6.5 million lobbying Congress in the last six months.

Joe Chemical is well resourced, but he can be beat.

So here’s where we come in. Learning from history is the only way we can ensure we don’t repeat bad mistakes. We’re starting a campaign to let the public know that we are saying “No to Joe Chemical.”

Joe Chemical is talking to Members of Congress every single day, and lobbying newly elected Members of Congress. We need your voice to stop him in his tracks. Will you join me in saying no to Joe?

Here’s how you can participate:

  • Follow Joe Chemical on Twitter and join us in saying #No2JoeChemical
  • Spread the word on Facebook by sharing our fun Joe Chemical images and action!


Follow us on Twitter: @SaferChemicals and our Deputy Director @Lindsay_SCHF


Thanks for the info. It is just horrible. HAve you heard any news regarding EWG's find on babyorganic formaldyde find. I have been waiting. Any info on baby chemical free cleaning bottle and cleaning all purpose choices.

Posted by: marilyn | Nov 20, 2012 1:38:04 PM

Vickie - I'm sorry to hear about your town in Illinois. Here at Safer Chemicals we think it is going to take an organized and collective effort to win meaningful reform of toxic chemical laws. Please send me an email at info(at) if you want to get more involved!

Posted by: Safer Chemicals | Nov 20, 2012 6:14:27 AM

What's it going to take? Here in central Illinois the cancer rate is high. Why? Big farming and chemicals,crop dusting, chemical plants, and other industry along the Illinois river. The stench in the air burns your eyes, and leaves a chemical taste in your mouth. How do you stand up to big business and politics ? What's it going to take for people to understand the things they use even in their household cleaning is toxic? Air freshners toxic, perfume toxic,scented candles toxic, on and on. But they buy it because we were taught that chemicals were safe for our personal use. This is a battle for everyone and big business and the government have a responsibility to ensure that industries clean up our environment and that the consumer has right to know what is in the products they are purchasing.

Posted by: Vickie Shanklin | Nov 19, 2012 8:01:08 PM

JoeChemical has taken over for old Joe Camel, remember him? The spokescamel for the lying tobacco industry for many many years, until we finally caught onto his lies and made Congress take action and the FDA so he could be at least 'contained'. Well, Joe Chemical is worse; he has much more money, is famore dangerous, is in much more than just cigarets (water and air and even food), has been spending far more on election contributions to keep legislators in his pocket and is the representatives for many more wealthy men and corporations than poor old Joe Camel.
He's into fracking that pumps a million gallons of clean water under intense pressure a day into the ground, gets added chemicals as it pushes deep underground to get to natural gas, and leaves all the chemicals with all that water to seep into our underground water supplies, our rivers and streams............where the clean water was coming from before he got involved, and where of our water treatment plants get our drinking water. Now those water treatment plants weren't built to take all those chemicals out so they become more and more a part of our drinking water and any company that uses it to make our food in any way. Since this is a new way to put LOTS of chemicals into human bodies, it will be interesting just what havoc it causes. Of course, we are always totally unprepared for havoc. Or we could STOP the whole thing NOW.

Posted by: Anne | Nov 19, 2012 7:57:51 PM

Please do the right thing.

Posted by: Gina Keener | Nov 19, 2012 3:32:48 PM

I'm sorry, but "chemicals" is too vague. There are good and bad ones. Couldn't there be a preface, like "dangerous," or "untested industrial," or some other umbrella term for mutagens, endocrine disruptors, neuro-toxins, persistent, toxic, petrochemical-related, plastic, something?

Posted by: Lindsay Groves | Nov 19, 2012 2:59:05 PM

Thanks Linda and Jenny. It's true, our current system is broken. That's why we're working hard to reform laws in Congress that would protect our families from toxic chemicals. Thanks for taking action and spreading the word, the more we can get the message of "Joe Chemical" out there, the better!

Posted by: Safer Chemicals | Nov 19, 2012 10:03:39 AM

I don't want my Senators to fall for the smooth talking chemical industry, just took action and will share with my friends. Thanks for posting!

Posted by: Jenny | Nov 19, 2012 10:00:39 AM

It is a shame all this money spent to prevent reform for safer products. All that money could have helped the sick from these dangerous products with unregulated chemicals.

And just because the lack of regulation did not give these companies the right to put chemicals that do harm in our products-- even our baby products.

Shame on you Joe Chemical and friends. You took away the health away from so many good people all for greed. It is possible to test your chemicals and make sure you are making safe products.

Posted by: Linda Delp | Nov 19, 2012 9:06:36 AM

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