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Rejoinder: Story on presence of carcinogenic chemical in detergents 'factually incorrect'

By Satish Sinha*
This is to draw your attention on the news story, “Nirma told to publicly declare it's 'not using' carcinogenic chemical in detergents”, by Rajiv Shah. We would like to assert that the report is factually incorrect and misrepresents facts. The author has incorrectly attributed quotes that were never mentioned and some have been incorrectly contextualized. We completely disagree with the text and find the reporting misleading.
Produced below are many quotes as mentioned in the report that were either not made by Toxics Link or has been incorrectly contextualized.
1. Sinha warned: "So far, we have not made public results of the tests we have carried out of the detergents produced by Nirma and others. Nirma has the option to put up a message on the detergents it sells in the market stating they do not contain nonylphenol. However, if they don't do it, we will be left with no other option to make public chemical analysis of the detergents. It would make big headlines, which would be embarrassing for Nirma."
Comments: The reporter has incorrectly quoted Mr Sinha here. It was only stated that if we do carry out another testing we shall quote the names of brands.
2. They have been making strange claims. But we have checked. The Patanjali detergents also contain the harmful chemical.
Answering a question on whether Toxics Link has analysed Patanjali detergents, which Baba Ramdev claims do not contain and harmful chemicals, Sinha said, "It's a serious issue. They are powerful people. So, we generally avoid naming them, because they can harm us." However, he hastened to add, "They have been making strange claims. But we have checked. The Patanjali detergents also contain the harmful chemical..."

Comments: We have never said that they are making strange claim. Also the entire quote is misleading and half-truth.
3. Sinha said, "We as NGO are very small. We do not have enough funds for creating such a data base. Even for small tests we have to approach institutes like Indian Institute of Technology." Answering a question, he suggested, industrial houses like Nirma, if they are really serious about not using harmful chemicals, could fund for the creation of such data house. The Nirma representative, however, said, it was difficult to say whether the industrial house could provide money.
Comments: The above text is false and imagination of the author. This is for purpose of causing sensation.
4. What is most worrisome, however, is neither the industry nor the government knows even the ABC of chemicals being used, as a result of which, at international fora, when concerns are raised, we cut a sorry figure.
Comments: This statement is entirely wrong and misunderstood.
We have a strong objection the way the news story has been portrayed with misleading quotes and wrong information. We would like to put on your notice that the other news agencies also have carried out the similar stories, however their statements are not misleading and misquoted.
Therefore we urged you to take necessary actions in this direction.
---
*Associate director, Toxics Link
*** 

Rajiv Shah replies:

First of all, the Toxics Link report released at the roundtable “Dirty Trail Detergent to Water bodies” (click HERE to download), states, “A set of 12 detergent powder (including two duplicate) samples from a local market in New Delhi … were collected.” It adds, “Known and easily available brands were chosen…”
It reports the results as follows: “In the present study, twelve detergents samples (including two duplicate) were collected and analyzed. All of the analyzed samples detected Nonylphenol in the concentration which varied between 0.82 and 11.92 wt%. The highest concentration was observed in detergent 3, while the lowest was in detergent 9.”
A screenshot from "Dirty Trail"
The report does not mention the brands. It is Toxics Link's option whether to make public the names of the brands.
Secondly, my report is based on the proceedings of the roundtable, when none of the reporters from other media were present. The organisers did not say that proceedings were off the record. 
I have nothing more to add.

Comments

Jag Jivan said…
A typical NGO response. Running with hare and hunting with hounds.

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