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 »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Health Science, 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 »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Health Science, 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 »

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

Shifting the burden for toxics with a sneaky website: one more reason Dourson shouldn’t lead EPA toxics office

Jack Pratt is Chemicals Campaign Director

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

With Congress back from recess, it is slated to take up the nomination of Michael Dourson to run the toxics office at EPA. Here are links to our recent blog posts documenting why we are deeply concerned about his nomination:

Starting with work he did for the tobacco industry, Dourson has made a career downplaying concerns about chemicals, from harmful pesticides to cancer-causing solvents, paid for that work by the same companies that make or use those chemicals.

In addition to his work as a toxicologist-for-hire, Dourson and his firm, TERA, have provided more public-facing services.  One of these, done with funding from the American Chemistry Council, was the “Kids+Chemicalsafety” website, now defunct, but still available online at the Internet Archive.

Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, Regulation, TSCA Reform| Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

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

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is 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 »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Industry Influence, 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, Ph.D.is 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 »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Health Science, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform| Tagged | Comments are closed
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