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Daily News Archive
From July 17, 2001

Toxic Chemical Review Process Faulty

The General Accounting Office (GAO) report EPA's Science Advisory Board Panels: Improved Policies and Procedures Needed to Ensure Independence and Balance has found serious deficiencies in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) procedures for preventing conflicts of interest and ensuring a proper balance of views among Science Advisory Board panel members, according to a Washington Post article. The scientists and experts advising the EPA on a broad range of regulatory issues governing toxic chemicals in air and water quality often have ties to the affected industries or other conflicts of interest.

The GAO found such problems as: four of the thirteen panel members studying cancer risks of the chemical 1, 3-butadiene in 1998 had worked for chemical companies or industry-affiliated research organizations, including one who had worked for the company that had manufactured the chemical; seven of 17 advisory board members on a cancer-risk assessment panel had worked for chemical companies or for industry-affiliated research organizations, and five other panelists had received consulting or other fees from chemical manufacturers.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (CA), ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, commented, "The American People expect decisions that affect environmental and public health regulations to be based on unbiased science, but this GAO study reveals polluting industries are in a position to influence panel findings."

The director of the EPA's Science Advisory Board staff "generally agreed with the report's findings and recommendations" and pledged to improve operations and procedures.

To view the full report in PDF format, click on the following link: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d01536.pdf