Selected tag(s): Dourson

Top 5 takeaways from this weekend’s NY Times investigation into industry influence in EPA’s toxics program

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

The lead article in Sunday’s print edition of the New York Times, titled “Why Has the E.P.A. Shifted on Toxic Chemicals? An Industry Insider Helps Call the Shots,” presents an 8000-word exposé of the Trump Administration’s takeover of the Environmental Protection Agency’s chemical safety program.  It focuses on the outsized role played by Dr. Nancy Beck, who arrived at the Agency on May 1 fresh from her job as a senior official at the chemical industry’s main trade association, the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

For those who have not had the chance to read the article, I provide here my take on some of its most compelling and disturbing findings:

  1. Immediately upon her arrival at EPA as a political appointee, Dr. Beck made extensive changes to the near-final “framework rules” implementing the Toxic Substances Control Act.
  2. Dr. Beck’s changes were objected to by career staff in multiple offices across the Agency.
  3. Dr. Beck is actively working to jettison proposed rules that would ban high-risk uses of trichloroethylene and methylene chloride.
  4. Dr. Beck has been cleared to work on issues directly relating to her prior employer’s interests.
  5. While at ACC, Dr. Beck frequently worked with Michael Dourson, the industry toxicologist-for-hire that President Trump nominated to head the EPA chemical safety office and who is facing stiff opposition from many Senators.

For a bit more detail on each of these, keep reading.   Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform| Tagged | 1 Response

Dourson’s account of his work on PFOA is incomplete and misleading

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

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

In testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) on October 4 and in responses to Questions for the Record submitted by Senators after the hearing, Michael Dourson, the Trump Administration’s nominee to run EPA’s chemical safety program, provided information about his work on a DuPont chemical called PFOA (also known as C8) that is incomplete and misleading.  His selective responses to Senators’ questions reinforce the already serious concerns about his nomination and his suitability for the job.   Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, Health Science, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform| Tagged | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Health Policy, Health Science, 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 »

Posted in Health Policy, Health Science, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform| Tagged | 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.

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

Next Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Michael Dourson – who has made a career as a chemical industry hired gun – to lead the EPA toxics office.

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 »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Industry Influence, 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, 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
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