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ACC Comments on Expertise of Provisional NASEM Formaldehyde Review Committee

ACC renews calls for thorough, objective scientific review following the announcement of the provisional NASEM review committee for EPA’s 2022 draft formaldehyde IRIS assessment

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Tom Flanagin
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WASHINGTON (August 10, 2022) — Last Friday, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) announced its provisional committee charged with reviewing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2022 draft formaldehyde Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) assessment. Compounding continued concerns regarding both the draft formaldehyde assessment and the IRIS program itself. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) implores NASEM to provide more time for public input in order to ensure all appropriate scientific expertise is represented on the committee, and that the committee is capable of delivering a thorough and objective review that considers the full body of available science on formaldehyde. 

“We are concerned that continued, bipartisan calls for action surrounding the assessment’s development have gone ignored,” said Chris Jahn, President & CEO, ACC. “Now more than ever, it is imperative that a balanced NASEM committee conduct an objective review that acknowledges concerns raised by stakeholders for more than a decade.” 

ACC is reviewing the provisional panel for adherence to current requirements for independence, transparency, balance, turnover, and impartiality to ensure that the best available science and the appropriate scientific expertise guides the review process.

“Time and again, we’ve underscored the importance of a transparent, objective review of EPA’s draft formaldehyde IRIS assessment, which is focused on the best available and most relevant scientific information,” said Dr. Kimberly Wise White, Vice President, Regulatory & Scientific Affairs, ACC. “The provisional committee would greatly benefit from including additional expertise that is essential to reviewing the updated assessment, including key areas that have been the source of continued criticism in EPA’s draft IRIS assessment. ACC will be closely reviewing and providing public comment on the committee’s composition to ensure that the best available science and the appropriate scientific expertise guides the NASEM review process.”

The EPA process to develop this assessment has been marked by irregularities, potential issues of bias and conflicts of interest.  This reinforces the importance of a transparent, objective NASEM review that is focused on the science, free of any bias, appropriately balanced and is consistent with best practices for a third-party review of this complex chemistry.

In 2011, NASEM itself found significant deficiencies with both the formaldehyde assessment and the IRIS program, offering recommendations for improvement that have yet to be fully implemented. More recently, an analysis of public documents revealed that clear process deficiencies and potential issues of bias still remain in the 2021 draft. Despite a broad range of stakeholders raising these concerns, EPA failed to even extend the public comment period to allow time for adequate review. 

ACC urges NASEM to augment the expertise and composition of the committee to ensure the committee is capable of weighing the full body of scientific evidence on formaldehyde, that previous scientific recommendations by the NASEM have been fully addressed and that the review is worthy of public confidence.

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the multibillion-dollar business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products, technologies and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health, safety and security performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy addressing major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. ACC members and chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development, and are advancing products, processes and technologies to address climate change, enhance air and water quality, and progress toward a more sustainable, circular economy.

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