On the road to improvement: EPA's troubled program on chemical hazards

May 21, 2014

Out of the thousands of chemicals used for countless everyday products, about 500 have been assessed for potential health risks by the federal program tasked with this colossal duty. The good news is the Environmental Protection Agency, which runs the program, has improved it, but more remains to be done, according to a report from the National Research Council (NRC). Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly news magazine of the American Chemical Society, hits the report's highlights.

Cheryl Hogue, senior correspondent for C&EN, explains that the EPA program, called Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), has been the target of criticism from multiple sides. Democrats and the Government Accountability Office have taken it to task for failing to complete assessments in a timely way. Some Republicans have faulted IRIS for lacking scientific credibility. In 2011, the NRC called for major reforms and followed up with a new congressional-requested report this May.

Although some changes have been made, the NRC makes additional recommendations for further improvements, the C&EN article notes. Among the suggestions are the following: The EPA should check for "risk of bias" in the scientific studies the agency uses to assess a 's potential hazards, and the agency should provide technical assistance to public interest and community groups that would like to comment on draft assessments but don't have the scientific or financial resources to do so. The question remains, will the agency receive the funding required to put these practices into place?

Explore further: EPA suggests safer flame retardants

More information: "EPA's Efforts Endorsed" cen.acs.org/articles/92/i20/EPAS-Efforts-Endorsed.html

Related Stories

EPA suggests safer flame retardants

September 26, 2013

(HealthDay)—Safer alternatives to a toxic flame retardant chemical are presented in a new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Predicting health risks of everyday chemicals

October 16, 2013

Concern over the safety of everyday household products, such as baby bottles and soaps, has spurred a wide-ranging research effort into predicting the health risks of tens of thousands of chemicals. That's the topic of the ...

Watchdog looking at EPA handling of mine study

May 6, 2014

The office that acts as a watchdog of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is looking at the agency's handling of a report on the potential impacts of large-scale mining in Alaska's Bristol Bay region.

Recommended for you

Revealing glacier flow with animated satellite images

November 26, 2015

Frank Paul, a glaciologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, has created animations from satellite images of the Karakoram mountain range in Asia to show how its glaciers flow and change. The images of four different ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.