Next TSCA chemical peer reviews and draft risk evaluations to be delayed. You’ll never guess why.

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

We’re hearing that EPA has cancelled the next meeting of its Scientific Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC), which was scheduled for October 21-25.  The SACC is conducting peer reviews of EPA’s draft risk evaluations of the first 10 chemicals to undergo safety reviews under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

Word is that the panel was to use its October meeting to peer-review the draft risk evaluations for methylene chloride and N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP).  But release of those drafts has been delayed, leaving insufficient time for the SACC to review them before the meeting.

We’re also hearing why release of the drafts has fallen behind.  The drafts were on track for release late last month, but apparently were blocked based on objections about at least the draft risk evaluation for methylene chloride.  The objections were lodged by Dr. Nancy Beck. 

Recall that Dr. Beck left the TSCA office at EPA, where she was a Deputy Assistant Administrator, back in June and moved into a new position at the White House in the National Economic Council.  We’re hearing that from her new perch, in addition to intervening in TSCA risk evaluations, she is also exerting major influence over other TSCA policies and broader decisions on chemicals across the Federal government.

Dr. Beck is no stranger to methylene chloride and NMP, both from her time at the American Chemistry Council (ACC) – the chemical industry’s main trade association – and after she arrived at EPA directly from ACC in May 2017.

While at ACC, Beck co-authored ACC’s 2013 comments that criticized earlier draft risk assessments of methylene chloride and NMP that EPA had conducted in 2012.  Upon arriving at EPA in 2017, she oversaw the TSCA office’s further work on these chemicals, including its decisions to scale back or abandon altogether proposed rules that would have restricted high-risk uses of these chemicals.  Later that year, the New York Times published a profile of Dr. Beck that highlighted her reported skepticism about the need for the methylene chloride ban.

Also while at ACC, Beck co-authored a paper with Dr. Michael Dourson, the Trump Administration’s failed first nominee to run the TSCA office, that called for a weakening of the hazard values for methylene chloride (as well as 23 other chemicals) that had been established by EPA’s Information Risk Information System (IRIS) – long a target of ACC’s.

To date, the SACC has raised serious concerns about EPA’s other draft risk evaluations as insufficiently health-protective or based on insufficient data and flawed analyses.  It’s hard to imagine that Dr. Beck’s current intervention in the methylene chloride draft risk evaluation will render it more health-protective.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see the results of her efforts.


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One Comment

  1. Adam M Finkel
    Posted October 2, 2019 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    You are too polite to end your post this way– “it’s also hard to imagine that Dr. Beck’s current intervention in the methylene chloride draft risk evaluation will render it more SCIENTIFICALLY ACCURATE or logical”– but these comments to a prior EPA docket raise exactly this concern: