Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.
The primary means by which chemical risks are to be judged under current legislative proposals for reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), including the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S. 847), is through risk assessment – a key demand of industry. Yet traditional risk assessments have often fallen short of protecting public health and have sometimes taken decades to identify a “safe” level of exposure to certain chemicals. As a result, public and health and environmental community confidence in risk assessment is very low. There are also major technical deficiencies in current risk assessment methodologies that must be addressed if it is to serve as a credible basis for determining chemical risks. For example, we now know that there are many chemicals for which any level of exposure poses some risk, yet traditional risk assessment assumes a safe level exists for nearly all chemicals.
The Safe Chemicals Act includes provisions to ensure that EPA’s use of risk assessment incorporates the best available science, initially by requiring EPA to rely on the recent recommendations of the nation’s foremost scientific body, the National Academy of Sciences, as to how EPA can improve its practice of risk assessment. Implementing the recommendations is critical to restoring the credibility of and public confidence in risk assessment. Read More