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WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 3, 2012) – In testimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, American Chemistry Council’s Vice President of Regulatory and Technical Affairs, Mike Walls, commented on the quality of science being utilized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies to assess chemicals and offered potential improvements.
“The business of chemistry is fundamentally the business of science,” said Walls. “The chemical industry practices high quality science to foster the discovery of new chemistries and the development of new tools for assessing chemical hazards, exposures and risks. We similarly expect high quality science, and reliable assessment processes, to underpin effective and efficient regulatory decisions by the federal government.”
“My testimony today boils down to a simple message: The process for bringing science to bear in regulatory and policy decision-making at EPA and other federal agencies is broken,” he continued. “The quality of that science has suffered as a result. And the credibility and reliability of the decisions made on the basis of that science is at stake.”
To demonstrate how the quality of science has eroded, Walls pointed to problems with the EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) assessments of n-butanol and dioxin as well as with the evaluation of formaldehyde and styrene in the 12th Report on Carcinogens (RoC).
“Why do we need to get this right? About 80 percent of IRIS assessments haven’t been updated for more than 15 years,” he explained. “90 percent are now at least 10 years old. Meanwhile, the science that informs our understanding of chemicals and exposures has continued to advance by leaps and bounds. That new science should surely inform our regulatory and policy decisions.”
“In short, we need to modernize and streamline these processes to meet both today’s needs and our future challenges,” Walls concluded and offered several recommendations, which included improvements to the government’s peer review process, establishing standards across agencies and leveraging emerging science and technologies.
To view the full testimony, click here.
Learn more about regulatory reform and IRIS.