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Letter Assigning to HEW Responsibility for Developing a Computer-Based File on Toxic Chemicals.

June 20, 1966

[Released June 20, 1966 Dated June 16, 1966]

Dear Mr. Secretary:

The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, under your direction, has taken giant strides in the last year to improve the health of this Nation's people. That struggle is never-ending, and further measures are needed.

My Science Advisory Committee has recently studied the availability of information concerning the toxic effects of the evergrowing number of chemicals which are introduced into our environment. The Committee has recommended that responsibility be assigned to a single Federal department for the development of a computer-based file of toxicological information. I hereby assign that responsibility to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

The need to productively use the many chemical substances now available without endangering the environment in which we live is a critical national problem of massive dimensions. The cooperation of industry, the academic community, and all interested individuals and institutions will be essential to an effective national effort. Accordingly, the toxicological information file to be developed by your Department must be open to all people with a legitimate need to know its contents.

I am transmitting to you a copy of the full report of my Science Advisory Committee. It is a most timely comment on an important national problem.

I will be greatly interested in the progress of your Department in the establishment of the recommended system and in your plans for providing broad access to it.

Sincerely yours,


[The Honorable John W. Gardner, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, Washington, D.C.]

Note: On the same day the White House issued a release announcing the President's letter to Secretary Gardner and the report of the President's Science Advisory Committee entitled "Handling of Toxicological Information" (see Item 279).

The release pointed out that with progressive industrialization "all segments of the population are exposed to an ever-increasing number of chemical compounds in the environment. This occurs as a result of the use of chemicals to promote health, industry, and agriculture. It also results from frequent exposure to chemicals and from pollution of water and air. Because the number of compounds is so vast and exposure so common, it is important that we pay particular attention to actual or potential toxic effects caused by them."

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter Assigning to HEW Responsibility for Developing a Computer-Based File on Toxic Chemicals. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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