EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) is now requesting that persons who make oral comments at its bimonthly meetings or submit written comments on its documents disclose whether they have “financial relationships … with any organization(s) or entities having an interest in the assessments or issues under discussion,” and, if so, to identify the nature of that relationship, (e.g., consulting agreements, expert witness support, or research funding). Read More
Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist.
[This post is adapted from comments I gave at a recent Friday Forum hosted by the American Bar Association’s Pesticides, Chemical Regulation and Right-to-Know Committee.]
Elections change some things and don’t change others. That is certainly true about what happened on Nov 4.
The best election recap I’ve heard came from a hairdresser I overhead when getting my hair cut last week. She said: “Democrats win, I have to work; Republicans win, I have to work.”
I doubt anyone would try to argue that the election was in any way about or directly relevant to the TSCA reform debate, or even any sort of more general referendum on the environment. My view is that it wasn’t really even much about political parties and which one controls the Senate – it was more of a “throw the bums out and let some new ones have a try” election.
On the other hand, it was about broad and deep dissatisfaction of voters with the inability of Washington to get anything meaningful done. That is relevant to the opportunity the TSCA reform issue presents to the new Congress, which is one of a handful of issues that seems to have the potential to show voters that something can get done.
There is also no question that the dynamics that have determined for some time the pace and direction of the TSCA reform debate changed significantly with the switch to Republican control of the Senate. That brings with it new political opportunities and challenges.
But what I want to talk mostly about is what HASN’T changed. Read More
EDF’s recommendations for IRIS conflicts-of-interest disclosures, and the strong precedents for them
Our last blog post was quite lengthy and some readers may not have gotten to the recommendations we provided to EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) governing disclosures of conflicts of interest. In that post, we also cited the numerous strong precedents for requiring such disclosures.
So we’re reposting here our recommendations and discussion of precedents. Read More
Time to come clean: IRIS needs to require stakeholders attending its meetings to disclose their conflicts of interest
EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) has been implementing a number of changes in the last couple of years, in response to criticism and concerns coming at it from all sides. As stated on its website: “These enhancements will improve productivity and scientific quality in IRIS assessments and help EPA meet the goal of producing IRIS assessments in a timely and transparent manner.” IRIS has noted that increasing “stakeholder engagement is an essential part of the enhancements.”
Simultaneously pursuing these lofty goals of increasing throughput, scientific quality, transparency and stakeholder engagement in IRIS assessments is challenging, to say the least. EDF has and will continue to emphasize the need to strike a balance between these goals, given that overemphasis on one can actually exacerbate the problems aimed to be addressed by another.
In this somewhat lengthy post, we’ll examine one such serious problem – skewed participation in IRIS’ bimonthly meetings. We’ll look at steps EPA has taken to partially address the problem, and argue that the lack of adequate disclosure by participants of conflicts of interest remains a major unaddressed contributing factor. We’ll discuss our recommendations for full disclosure and point to the strong precedents for such disclosures in other venues. Read More
Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist.
Michelle Harvey, Jennifer McPartland and Boma Brown-West contributed to this post.
[UPDATE 10/28/14: This post has been updated to reflect information we learned since posting it, regarding additional companies' disclosure initiatives.]
We are nowhere near New Year’s Day, but based on recent corporate resolutions, 2015 is shaping up to be the year for ingredient transparency in products! And that’s good news for those of us who want to know what we may be exposing ourselves and our families to when we use everyday products in our homes and on our bodies.
Unlike food and drugs, which must bear content labels, there has all too often been no way for consumers to know what’s in the products they use. In particular, the composition of the myriad fragrances used in household cleaners, detergents and soaps, air fresheners, and other common household products have pretty much been a black box. But change is on the way. Read More
Jennifer McPartland, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.
Readers of this blog are acutely aware of the dearth of data available for tens of thousands of chemicals in U.S. commerce today. This state of ignorance reflects legal and resource constraints as well as the “challenge” of continuously integrating advancements in our scientific understanding of human health and disease into the way we assess chemical toxicity.
Fortunately, federal efforts to develop new chemical testing approaches, such as the high-throughput screening programs ToxCast and Tox21, offer a great opportunity to narrow the data gap while also helping to shine light on how environmental chemicals can impact our health. But realizing the full potential of these new approaches will take a village.
Today in Environmental Health Perspectives we have published a commentary that calls for greater and more diverse engagement of the basic research community in developing and using the new federal chemical testing data. We also provide recommendations that we believe would help facilitate and improve such engagement. Read on to learn more. Read More