More than 150 nominated to new US chemicals assessment panel

19 January 2012 20:03  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--More than 150 scientists and other specialists have been nominated to serve on a new federal chemicals assessment panel, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Thursday.

The EPA is setting up a chemicals assessment advisory committee in response to congressional, industry and scientific community criticism of the agency’s regulatory decisions.

Late last year the agency invited public nominations for the committee, which will become the seventh such panel in EPA’s larger science advisory board (SAB).

The EPA said that with more than 150 nominees, the nomination process is closed and there are likely enough qualified persons available to fill out the chemical assessment committee.

Although the EPA said that the number of committee members had not yet been determined, the other six advisory panels in the SAB have memberships ranging from 10 to 20 individuals.

The new chemical assessment advisory committee is to guide the agency in establishing a sound scientific basis for its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) programme.

The IRIS programme is supposed to assess the health effects of chemicals in commerce and to form the basis for their regulation.

However, that assessment programme has come under heavy criticism from the chemicals industry, members of Congress and in a harsh review by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

The NAS issued a report in April last year which challenged the EPA’s “unsupported” scientific conclusions and said that future IRIS assessments would not be valid without a sound science foundation for the programme.

For example, the NAS study found that the EPA’s recent draft assessment of formaldehyde as a carcinogen “was not prepared in a logically consistent fashion, lacked clear links to an underlying conceptual framework and did not sufficiently document methods and criteria used to identify evidence for selecting and evaluating chemical studies”.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private non-profit institution chartered by Congress in 1863 to provide expert scientific advice to the federal government.

Some members of Congress have accused the EPA of “scientific misconduct” in decisions about regulating chemicals.

The EPA's own internal audit found shorthcomings in the agency's scientific grounds for regulating greenhouse gases (GHG).

The new chemical assessment committee is supposed to restore scientific credibility to the agency’s rulemaking.

EPA was not able to say when final appointments to the committee would be made.

Existing EPA advisory committees concern drinking water, human exposure, radiation and ecological processes, among others.

By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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