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Selected tag(s): Dourson

In 2016 industry-funded paper, Dourson and Beck sought weaker standard for lethal paint stripper chemical

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

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

[See clarification added on 10-26-17 in brackets below.]

The New York Times’ investigation “Why Has the E.P.A. Shifted on Toxic Chemicals? An Industry Insider Helps Call the Shots” published this past Sunday cited evidence that Nancy Beck – a political appointee in EPA’s chemical safety office who until May was a senior official at the American Chemistry Council (ACC) – is questioning the need for EPA’s proposed rule to ban the use of the deadly chemical dichloromethane (also called methylene chloride) in paint and coating removers.  These products are responsible for dozens of deaths in recent years.

The Times’ story also noted in its last paragraph that Beck and Michael Dourson – the Trump Administration’s controversial nominee to lead EPA’s chemical safety office – are co-authors on a 2016 paper that was funded by ACC.  That paper was published in the industry’s go-to journal, Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, where Dourson has published most of his papers.

The paper is of interest and relevant for another reason as well:  Dourson and Beck assert that the acceptable risk levels EPA has set for 24 chemicals are all too stringent and should be relaxed by anywhere from 2.5 to 150 fold.  (Funny, isn’t it, how the numbers for all 24 chemicals all went in the same direction?)

Among these 24 chemicals is the paint-stripping chemical dichloromethane (aka methylene chloride).  This chemical is a particularly concerning one:  It is a likely carcinogen and is linked to numerous other chronic health impacts, but it is also acutely and tragically lethal.   Dourson and Beck call for EPA’s standard for the chemical to be relaxed to a level that is 8.3 times less protective. [Clarification added 10-26-17:  This factor applies to EPA’s ingestion standard (reference dose); Dourson and Beck’s proposed adjustment to EPA’s inhalation standard (reference concentration) was 2.5-fold less protective.]

The Times article makes clear that, despite her prior work on this chemical while at ACC, and the fact that this chemical is made by numerous ACC companies, Beck has not recused herself from making decisions about its risk and regulatory responses – decisions that are being considered at EPA even as I write.  Indeed, as I noted earlier this week, her astounding ethics agreement gives her wide latitude to work on issues in which ACC has financial interests in order to ensure those interests are taken into account.

In Dourson’s nomination hearing held by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on October 4, he was repeatedly asked if he would, if confirmed, recuse himself from work on chemicals he had been paid by industry to work on, and he repeatedly refused to say he would do so.

One more reason that Michael Dourson should not be entrusted with our health and the Senate should reject his nomination to head EPA’s toxics office.

Just yesterday, Dourson’s nomination was voted out of the committee by an 11-10 vote.  The fight over his nomination now moves to the full Senate.

 

Posted in Health Policy, Health Science, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform / Also tagged | Comments are closed

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 | Comments are closed

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 | Comments are closed

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 | Comments are closed

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 | Comments are closed

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.

[Update added November 17: On October 25, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works voted to advance Michael Dourson’s nomination to oversee chemical safety at the EPA. The fight is now in the full Senate, where two Republican senators have already come out against Dourson. With Democrats standing in strong opposition to this toxic nominee, Dourson’s nomination will not move forward if one more Republican senator comes out against him.]

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

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