Selected category: Health Science

More than 50 public health scientists sign letter opposing Dourson’s nomination for EPA's toxics office

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

[Use this link to see all of our posts on Dourson.]

Today a letter was submitted to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee signed by more than 50 public health scientists from dozens of universities voicing their strong opposition to the nomination of Michael Dourson to lead the EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP).

The scientists' letter states, in part:

Granting Dr. Dourson the responsibility of overseeing EPA OCSPP would threaten the agency’s ability to credibly and effectively address harmful chemical exposures.  Dr. Dourson has built a career of abusing science to mischaracterize real-world chemical risks and in doing so has jeopardized public health, including the health of those most vulnerable among us like pregnant women and children.

The letter comes in advance of a vote on his nomination by the Senate Committee, currently scheduled for this Wednesday at 10am EDT.  If he is voted out of committee, a majority vote of the full Senate would then be required for his nomination to be confirmed.

Also posted in Health Policy, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform| Tagged | Leave a comment

No end to chemicals for which the Trump nominee to head EPA’s toxics office has conflicts of interest

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

[My colleague Ryan O’Connell assisted in the research described in this post.]

[Use this link to see all of our posts on Dourson.]

In a series of earlier posts to this blog, we have described and documented numerous conflicts of interests that Michael Dourson, the Trump Administration’s nominee to head EPA’s toxics office, would bring to the job if he is confirmed.

(A vote on his nomination by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is currently scheduled for this Wednesday at 10am EDT.  If he is voted out of committee, a majority vote of the full Senate would then be required for his nomination to be confirmed.)

Dourson has worked on dozens of toxic chemicals under payment from dozens of companies.  Two consistent patterns emerge when his reviews are examined:  The process he typically uses to conduct his reviews is riddled with conflicts of interest.  And his reviews typically result in him recommending “safe” levels for the chemicals that are weaker, often much weaker, than the established standards in place at the time of his reviews.

If confirmed, Dourson would oversee most of the chemicals and companies he has worked on and with.  The chemicals include numerous pesticides coming up for review shortly under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), as well as three chemicals that are among the first 10 EPA is now considering under the recently amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

To further gauge the impact Dourson could have if confirmed, we have looked a bit farther down the road.  TSCA requires EPA to be conducting risk evaluations on at least 20 chemicals by December 2019.  At least half of those chemicals are to be drawn from EPA’s so-called Work Plan for Chemical Assessments.

Using information available on the website of Dourson’s company, Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA), as well as his published papers, we compared the list of chemicals he/TERA have worked on to those on the EPA Work Plan.  We found that 22 chemicals overlap.  We then examined each chemical Dourson or TERA worked on to determine whether Dourson or TERA was paid for their work by their manufacturers or industrial users of those chemicals.   Read More »

Also posted in Health Policy, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform| Tagged | Leave a comment

Podcast: How an ongoing collaboration can inform us about the quality of the air we breathe

Unraveling the relationship between air quality and human health has been a critically important task for protecting public health. Traditional stationary air monitors have played a central role in tracking toxic air pollutants and ensuring levels remain below legal standards, but the data they generate cannot be used to create fine-scale maps of air quality over local areas.

An ongoing, multi-group project initiated by Environmental Defense Fund and Google Earth Outreach aims to fill this information gap by deploying Google Street View cars equipped with air quality monitors to amass one of the largest sets of mobile air pollution measurements ever assembled.

In this episode of our podcast, we talked with one of our project partners, Dr. Joshua Apte, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, about the first round of data collection, which took place in West Oakland, California. Dr. Apte walked us through the initial findings and shared his thoughts on what they mean for public health, as well as for local communities that may be disproportionately affected by air pollution.

 

Want more? Subscribe and listen on iTunes or Google Play, or check out Podbean to listen via desktop!

Also posted in Air Pollution, Health Policy| Tagged | Read 2 Responses

Proof in pudding: EPA toxics nominee Dourson has consistently recommended “safe” levels for chemicals that would weaken health protections

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

[Use this link to see all of our posts on Dourson.]

Earlier this week the New York Times ran an article on the Trump Administration’s nominee to run the EPA toxics office, Michael Dourson.  The article detailed Dourson’s longstanding ties to the chemical industry, citing examples of work he did on specific chemicals paid for by the companies that make or use them.

What is remarkable about Dourson’s work in light of his nomination is not just his conflicts, but the fact that his paid work consistently has led to him recommend “safe” levels of his clients’ chemicals that were less health-protective than government standards or guidelines prevailing at the time.  The Times article referred to an analysis by EDF in discussing the example of the pesticide chlorpyrifos.  Chlorpyrifos is one of 10 chemicals included in EDF’s analysis, which is provided in this post.   Read More »

Also posted in EPA, Health Policy, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform| Tagged | Comments are closed

Modus operandi: How EPA toxics nominee Dourson carries out his work for the chemical industry

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

[Use this link to see all of our posts on Dourson.]

I’ve now examined dozens of papers and reports that EPA toxics nominee Michael Dourson and his firm, Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA), have published on chemicals over the past 15-20 years.  A remarkably consistent pattern of how Dourson conducts his paid work for the chemical and pesticide industries emerges from this examination.  I’ll use one example below to illustrate, but most or all of the steps I’ll describe have been followed over and over again.   Read More »

Also posted in EPA, Health Policy, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform| Tagged | Comments are closed

New EPA model enables comparison of various sources of childhood exposure to lead

Tom Neltner, J.D.is Chemicals Policy Director and Dr. Ananya Roy is Health Scientist

This week, Environmental Health Perspectives published an important article by scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that sheds important light on the various sources of children’s lead exposure. Led by Valerie Zaltarian, the article shares an innovative multimedia model to quantify and compare relative contributions of lead from air, soil/dust, water and food to children’s blood lead level. The model couples existing SHEDS and IEUBK models to predict blood lead levels using information on concentrations of lead in different sources, intake and gut absorption. The predicted blood lead levels compared well with observed levels in the National Health and Nutrition Evaluation Survey population. Given the variety of independent sources of lead exposure, the model provides a critical tool that public health professionals can use to set priorities and evaluate the impact of various potential standards for all children and not just those with the greatest exposure.

This peer-reviewed article builds on a draft report EPA released in January 2017 evaluating different approaches to setting a health-based benchmark for lead in drinking water. The report has provided a wealth of insight into a complicated topic. Earlier this year, we used it to show that formula-fed infants get most of their lead exposure from water and toddlers from food, while the main source of lead for the highest exposed children is soil and dust. In our February blog, we provided our assessment of a health-based benchmark for lead in drinking water and explained how public health professionals could use it to evaluate homes. The information was also critical to identifying lead in food as an overlooked, but meaningful, source of children’s exposure to lead.

The new article reaffirms the analysis in the January 2017 EPA report and highlights that evaluating source contribution to blood lead in isolation versus aggregating across all sources can lead to very different answers and priorities. A health-based benchmark for lead in drinking water could vary from 0 to 46 ppb depending on age and whether all other sources of lead are considered. For example, a health-based benchmark for infants (birth to six months old) would be 4 ppb or 13 ppb depending on whether or not you consider all sources of exposure.

Read More »

Also posted in Drinking Water, Emerging Science, EPA, Food, Health Policy, lead, Uncategorized| Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments are closed
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