Selected tags: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)

The chemical industry says formaldehyde and styrene don’t cause cancer. Only one of 52 scientists agree.

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

Last week, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) held a joint meeting of its two panels that are charged with reviewing the listings of formaldehyde and styrene as carcinogens in the 12th Report on Carcinogens, which was released in June 2011.

The 12th Report on Carcinogens (RoC) is the latest edition of a Congressionally mandated report developed by the National Toxicology Program (NTP).  It upgraded formaldehyde to the status of “known to be a human carcinogen,” and for the first time listed styrene as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”  That put the chemical industry into a real tizzy, what with the threat these listings pose to its profits from the huge volumes of these cash cows sold each year, not to mention the huge potential liability it faces.

Never one to go down lightly, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) has launched an all-out assault on the NTP and the RoC.  It is waging battle not only with the executive branch, but also in the courts and in Congress.  In late 2011, it managed to get its allies in Congress to slip into the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, without any debate, a rider that mandated the NAS reviews of the formaldehyde and styrene listings in the 12th RoC that are now underway.

ACC also pushed legislation in the last Congress to shut down all funding for the RoC until the reviews are completed; failing on that front, earlier this month it demanded that NTP cease all work on the next (13th) edition of the RoC.  (For more background, see previous blog posts by EDF and NRDC.)

Lost in all this kerfluffle, however, are these salient facts:

  • The formaldehyde and styrene listings are the outcome of one of the most extensive scientific assessment processes on the planet, entailing reviews by four separate groups of expert scientists for each chemical.
  • ACC as well as the public had at least three separate formal opportunities for providing input to these expert bodies.
  • Of a total of 52 votes cast by these scientific panels on the NTP’s recommended listings, 51 of those votes supported the recommendations and only one opposed them. Read More »

Posted in Health Science, Industry Influence | Also tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

EDF comments at EPA's public stakeholder meeting on its IRIS Program

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

I provide in this post the comments I delivered as a panelist at the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) November 13, 2012 Public Stakeholder Meeting on its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program.  EPA describes IRIS as "a human health assessment program that evaluates information on health effects that may result from exposure to environmental contaminants."

 

The theme of my comments today is the critical need to restore balance to the IRIS program.  In my view, the program’s structure and practice have over time tilted badly toward allowing one set of interests and desirable attributes of chemical assessments to wholly dominate over another, equally critical set.  Let me explain.  Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Health Science | Also tagged , , , , | 1 Response, comments now closed

Chemical safety evaluation: Limitations of emerging test methods

Jennifer McPartland, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist. Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

Parts in this series:      Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts on new approaches that federal agencies are exploring to improve how chemicals are evaluated for safety.  In this post, we’ll discuss a number of current limitations and challenges that must be overcome if the new approaches are to fulfill their promise of transforming the current chemical safety testing paradigm.  Read More »

Posted in Emerging Testing Methods, Health Science | Also tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

A most-pressing Health Affair: Acting as if our children’s health matters

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

Health policy history of sorts was made this week:  The prestigious journal Health Affairs, the nation’s leading journal of health policy, unveiled its first-ever issue devoted entirely to environmental health.  It did so via a briefing held in Washington, DC on Wednesday that featured several pre-eminent environmental health experts, including David Fukuzawa, Program Director for Health at The Kresge Foundation; Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS); and Kenneth Olden, Professor and Founding Dean at the new City University of New York’s School of Public Health and former long-time NIEHS Director.

A sneak peak has been provided via advanced publication of some of the journal issue’s articles.  Prominent among the themes of these articles:  The high and increasing health and economic costs of unregulated exposures to unsafe and inadequately tested chemicals.

I’ll call attention here to two papers in particular:

Read More »

Posted in Health Policy | Also tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Do these chemicals make me look fat?

Woman in mirrorJennifer McPartland, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

My colleague Richard Denison at EDF ended his last blog post asking, “The new study [Environmental Chemicals in Pregnant Women in the US: NHANES 2003-2004] leaves me with one question:  How many more such wake-up calls do we need before our government enacts policies to ensure the safety of chemicals to which we are exposed?”

Maybe this will help shake us awake!  The obesity epidemic in the United States is increasing at alarming rates.   So too is an associated disease, type 2 diabetes.  Researchers have attributed 70% of the risk associated with developing type 2 diabetes with being overweight or obese, a risk that increases by 4.5% for every 2.2 pounds of weight gained over 10 years.

A healthy diet and hitting the gym should keep these diseases at bay, right?  Certainly proper nutrition and exercise are good and important habits for controlling our weight and maintaining overall health.  But what if, despite all such efforts, there are contributing factors outside of our control, and even outside of our genetic makeup?  And what if those potential factors are found in us, on us, and all around us?

New research suggests that chemicals found in our environment and in everyday products may play a significant role in packing on the pounds.  Read More »

Posted in Emerging Science, Health Science | Also tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed
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