Selected category: Industry Influence

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

Richard Denison, 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, Health Science, TSCA Reform| Tagged | Read 1 Response

Michael Dourson’s Toxic Wake: Locations Across the US Contaminated by Eight Chemicals “Blessed” by Trump EPA Toxics Nominee

Samantha Lovell is a Project Specialist.

[Update added November 17: On October 25, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works voted to advance Michael Dourson’s nomination to oversee chemical safety at the EPA. The fight is now in the full Senate, where two Republican senators have already come out against Dourson. With Democrats standing in strong opposition to this toxic nominee, Dourson's nomination will not move forward if one more Republican senator comes out against him.]

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

In past blogs, we have documented deep concerns about Dourson’s extensive, longstanding ties to the chemical industry in addition to his earlier work for the tobacco industry. Dourson and his company Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA) were paid for their work by more than three dozen companies or trade associations, involving at least three dozen different chemicals.

Several recent news stories and reports have identified examples where Dourson or TERA helped industry play down health concerns about chemicals, including Dourson’s work in West Virginia involving the “Teflon” chemical PFOA and his study funded by Koch Industries in Chicago involving petroleum coke.

To illustrate the real-world impacts of his work, we have identified locations across the country where eight of the chemicals that Dourson has “blessed” have stirred concerns from residents about polluted water, soil, and air or poisoned residents and workers.

Read More »

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

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

Richard Denison, 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, Health Science, TSCA Reform| Tagged | Comments are closed

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

Richard Denison, 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, Health Science, TSCA Reform| Tagged | Comments are closed

This speaks volumes: Industry rushes in to defend EPA’s new TSCA regulations

Richard Denison, a Lead Senior Scientist.

Environmental Defense Fund has made no secret of our view that many elements of the final framework rules issued by the Trump EPA in July to implement recent reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) are contrary to law and fail to reflect the best available science.  The rules EPA had proposed in January were heavily rewritten by a Trump political appointee, Dr. Nancy Beck, who until her arrival at the agency at the end of April was a senior official at the chemical industry’s main trade association, the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

In our view, the final rules largely destroyed the careful balance that characterized the efforts to reform TSCA and the final product of that effort, the Lautenberg Act.  In many respects, the final rules governing how EPA will identify and prioritize chemicals and evaluate their risks now mirror the demands of the chemical industry, reflected in comments they had submitted earlier – some of which Beck herself had co-authored.

These are among the reasons EDF as well as other NGOs and health and labor groups have had no choice but to file legal challenges to these rules.

Lest you have any doubt that the final rules are heavily skewed in industry’s direction, a development in these legal cases just yesterday should dispel it.  Read More »

Also posted in EPA, Health Policy, TSCA Reform| Tagged | Read 1 Response

Report: Widespread exposure to a risky chemical “blessed” by the Trump Administration’s nominee to head EPA’s toxics office

Richard Denison, a Lead Senior Scientist.  Jack Pratt is Chemicals Campaign Director.

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

A report issued today by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) documents that the industrial chemical 1,4-dioxane, a likely human carcinogen, is present in tap water used by nearly 90 million Americans living in 45 states.  For more than 7 million of those people (living in 27 states), the average level of the chemical exceeds the level set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as presenting an increased risk of cancer, which is one among a number of health effects tied to the chemical.

The solvent 1,4-dioxane is manufactured in large amounts in the U.S., with EPA reporting a total volume in 2015 between 1 and 10 million pounds. It is intentionally used or present in products like paints and coatings, greases, waxes, varnishes and dyes. It is also found as an impurity in many household cleaning and personal care products.

Among the other reasons this chemical is currently notable:

  • It is one of the first 10 chemicals being evaluated by EPA under the recently reformed Toxic Substances Control Act to determine whether it presents an unreasonable risk and warrants regulation. Currently there is no legal enforceable limit on the amount of the chemical allowed in drinking water.
  • It is one of a number of chemicals that Michael Dourson, the Trump Administration’s nominee to lead the EPA toxics office, was paid to work on by the chemical industry. EDF has blogged extensively about Dourson’s close ties to the chemical industry as well as earlier work he did for the tobacco industry.  In the case of 1,4-dioxane, Dourson was hired by PPG Industries, a paints and coatings manufacturer that has released the chemical into the environment, leading to contamination of a public water supply in Ohio.

Read More »

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