US EPA to review chem risk assessments amid research scepticism

15 June 2010 18:18  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has placed its risk assessments on methanol and five other chemicals on further review as it examines the validity of studies used in the assessments, the agency said on Tuesday.

In January, the EPA proposed to classify methanol, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE) and acrylonitrile (ACN) as likely human carcinogens based partly on data from Italy’s Ramazzini Institute, it said.

In addition, two completed risk assessments - on vinyl chloride (VCM) and 1,1-dichloroethylene (EDC) - also relied substantially on findings from Ramazzini cancer studies.

Those assessments would also be reviewed, the EPA said.

The reviews came after a team of pathologists from the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) recently visited Italy and examined a research study from the group on methanol.

The NTP said that its scientists disagreed with the institute on the diagnoses of certain cancers reported in the study, adding that further reviews were necessary to confirm or deny the reports.

The EPA said the assessments were placed on hold out of an “abundance of caution and to ensure the agency’s chemical assessments are grounded in the soundest possible science”.

The Methanol Institute, a trade group for the US methanol industry, called the EPA’s action reassuring.

“This NTP report confirms the Methanol Institute’s belief that before the Ramazzini study on methanol is proposed for use in any health assessment, a full ‘pathology working group’ review is absolutely necessary,” the group said.

For more on methanol, MTBE, acrylonitrile and vinyl chloride visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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By: Ben DuBose
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