Newark Star-Ledger
March 7, 2004


Scientist's views on toxins usually at odds with those of

By Alexander Lane

Dennis Paustenbach has rarely met a toxin he didn't like.

The 50-year-old toxicologist, principal of the California firm
ChemRisk, once soaked in a Jacuzzi laced with chromium to try
to prove it did not seep into the skin.

His resume runs 92 pages, boasting such clients as ExxonMobil,
Johnson & Johnson, Dow Chemical and some 60 other corporate
giants. He has worked on infamous environmental hot spots from
Times Beach, Mo., to Love Canal, N.Y., studying dioxins,
benzene, PCBs, MTBE, asbestos and many other toxins.

Almost without exception, both his admirers and critics said,
he has asserted these contaminants are not as dangerous as
regulators believed.

"He's a respected guy, but he sees things from industry's
perspective," said Ed Calabrese, a University of Massachusetts
toxicologist friendly to Paustenbach.

Others were less charitable.

At the mention of Paustenbach's name, David Michaels, an
environmental research professor at George Washington
University who served as former assistant secretary at the U.S.
Department of Energy, said: "Ah, Dr. Evil."

"These guys have the same relationship to science as Arthur
Andersen does to accounting," Michaels said, comparing
Paustenbach and his colleagues to the disgraced accounting

Paustenbach resigned last year from an expert chromium panel in
California amid criticism that he had hidden his industry
connections. The panel had relied on a study that bore the name
of a respected Chinese scientist -- though Pacific Gas &
Electric, a chromium polluter, had paid Paustenbach to revise
the study.

But Paustenbach has other prospects. He is editor in chief of a
publication called the Journal of Children's Health. The Bush
administration appointed him to a Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention committee that assesses the health effects of
environmental chemicals.

As to whether he has a pro-industry bias, Paustenbach said:

"I happen to think, if there is bias in the world, and I guess
there is, it goes both ways. The agencies say they're
protecting the public health and indeed they are. But they also
need to make things exciting and look productive, otherwise
they're not going to receive the funding they want to receive."

Copyright 2004 The Star-Ledger