Journal of Public Health Policy
Volume 39, Issue 1, February 2018
ToxicDocs: Opening a new era of evidence for policies to protect public health
ToxicDocs (www.ToxicDocs.org) goes live: A giant step toward leveling the playing field for efforts to combat toxic exposures
Anthony Robbins, Phyllis Freeman
…One of the main obstacles to creating the scientific evidence needed to reduce the adverse impact of corporations on health has been the extensive efforts of corporations to shield their harmful practices from scrutiny, scientific or public. To achieve this goal, corporations have
:: Falsified data, including when Volkswagen lied about its emission control devices  and Kobe steel reported fabricated data on the durability and safety of its metal products ,
:: Engaged in ‘credibility engineering,’ a practice by which corporations seek to repair damage to their credibility by reframing the problem ,
:: Obscured their conflicts of interest to enable them to appear to be a legitimate and disinterested participant in the policy process ,
:: Attacked and harassed critics by hacking their private communications , maligning their reputation , or threatening lawsuits ,
:: Helped pass laws limiting the public’s and scientists right to know , and
:: Acted vigorously to defeat public health measures .
Fortunately, in response to growing corporate efforts to limit public access to scientific evidence and free debate, researchers, activists, public interest lawyers, and public health professionals have created new ways of collecting, analyzing, and publicizing the evidence, ways that can illuminate what corporations seek to keep in the dark.
The new website, http://www.ToxicDocs.org , is an example. It provides scholars and activists with an important new resource to harness the power of new search technologies, worldwide Internet availability, and the growing recognition of corporate practices as a fundamental social determinant of health. By using www.ToxicDocs.org’s embedded search methods, investigators can answer legal and scientific questions such as the following: What did corporate executives know about the harmful effects of their products and practices? What steps did they take to reveal or hide this knowledge? And, what was their understanding of the mechanisms by which their practices influenced the health of workers, consumers, and the environment?…