GOP Provision in Omnibus Spending Bill Will Add Extra Review for IRIS Arsenic Assessment, Cause Delay

by Matt Shudtz | December 20, 2011

The environmental community breathed a small sigh of relief last week when congressional negotiators released a spending bill without policy riders that would have prevented EPA from advancing rules on greenhouse gases, endangered species, and coal ash.  One rider that was included will slow EPA’s efforts to assess toxic chemicals’ potential health effects under the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) process.  Although the rider was substantially revised from a version floated in the House in July, it will still delay important public health protections on arsenic and other toxic chemicals.

Ever since the National Research Council released its review of the IRIS formaldehyde assessment in April, the chemical industry and its GOP allies have been arguing that the IRIS program should be stopped until EPA revamps its process for assessing chemical risks.  The NRC committee went beyond its charge of assessing EPA’s draft formaldehyde assessment and included some significant criticisms regarding the form of recent IRIS assessments and EPA’s transparency about its methods for developing assessments.  But even though NRC’s complaints were serious, the reviewers were careful to state explicitly that EPA should not delay even the formaldehyde assessment as the agency works toward implementing NRC’s recommendations for improving the IRIS process.

The chemical industry’s congressional backers like to embrace the NRC report, but conveniently omit the part about not stalling current assessments. These industry backers shoehorned some particularly extreme riders into the budget bill debated in the House in ...

Scrambling the Truth on Toxics: IRIS Under Fire Again

by Wayland Radin | October 07, 2011
Continuing their crusade to undermine the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), the most prominent worldwide database of toxicological profiles of common chemicals, House Republicans held yet another hearing Thursday morning to review how the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) chemical risk assessment program interacts with and informs regulatory policy. This time, witnesses descended from politics into the weeds of science policy, doing their best to pretend that scientific risk assessments that say how “safe” dioxin is or isn’t have the same ...

Member Scholars Pen Letter to OMB on Attacks on EPA's IRIS Toxics Database

by Ben Somberg | July 08, 2011
Last month, the American Chemistry Council sent a letter to Jacob Lew, Director of the Office of Managmenet and Budget, calling on OMB to “take greater responsibility in the coordination and review of chemical safety assessments” and to “require EPA to submit all ongoing EPA IRIS assessments to the NAS for independent review.” The letter was the latest industry attack on the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), the EPA’s primary toxicological database. IRIS assessments of chemicals are used in regulatory ...

New CPR White Paper Proposes 47 Priority Chemicals for EPA's IRIS Toxic Chemical Database

by Lena Pons | December 20, 2010
In October, EPA requested nominations for substances that it should evaluate under the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). Today CPR releases Setting Priorities for IRIS: 47 Chemicals that Should Move to the Head of the Risk-Assessment Line -- a paper that we've submitted to EPA as our nominations for priority chemicals. Following up on our recent IRIS reform white paper, which made recommendations for how to improve the IRIS process and complete more reviews of basic toxicology information, CPR has completed ...

CPR White Paper Identifies Hundreds of Toxic Chemicals Insufficiently Studied by EPA

by Lena Pons | November 09, 2010
A new CPR white paper released today evaluates EPA’s performance in improving its database of human health information on toxic substances. The Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) contains “profiles” with bottom-line health effects information for 540 substances; federal regulators, as well as state and local governments and regulated industry itself, rely on the assessments to make decisions in protecting the public from harm. In Corrective Lenses for IRIS: Additional Reforms to Improve EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (press release), CPR found that ...

Potentially Regulated Parties, White House Trying to Inject the Data Quality Act and Other Distractions Into EPA's IRIS Assessment Process

by Matt Shudtz | May 17, 2010
In the year since EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced a new process (pdf) for updating chemical risk assessments in EPA's IRIS database, agency scientists have succeeded in getting some stalled assessments moving through the system. Since the May 21, 2009 announcement, EPA staff have competed nine new and updated assessments. Two others are in the final stages of review and 20 more are at the external peer review stage. But just as EPA staff are getting geared up, industry, potentially regulated federal ...

Eye on OIRA: Meddling with IRIS Again, Now on Arsenic

by Matt Shudtz | February 25, 2010
Add arsenic to the list of carcinogenic chemicals that will see delayed regulation from EPA as a result of OMB’s meddling. Last week, after almost seven years’ work, EPA released a draft assessment of the bladder and lung cancer risks posed by arsenic in drinking water. But the release of the final arsenic risk assessment is being delayed while EPA’s Science Advisory Board is asked to take yet another look at agency scientists’ work. As Jonathan Strong wrote in InsideEPA ...

CPR Scholars' Letter on OMB Intervention in EPA Science Programs

by Ben Somberg | October 22, 2009
CPR President Rena Steinzor and board member Robert Glicksman sent a letter today to White House Science Adviser John Holdren and OIRA Administrator Cass Sunstein regarding OMB's role in EPA science decisions. The letter concerns two recent episodes involving OMB that we wrote about this week: one regarding the EPA's Endocrine Disrputor Screening Program (EDSP) and the other regarding the agency's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). From the letter: Both of these episodes pre-date Professor Sunstein’s confirmation and may well ...

IRIS Update: EPA Announces New Program to Revise Old Chemical Profiles

by Matt Shudtz | October 22, 2009
In Wednesday's Federal Register, EPA unveiled a new, streamlined process through which agency scientists will systematically review old chemical profiles in the IRIS database and update them with the latest toxicological information. With everything from Clean Air Act residual risk determinations about hazardous air pollutants to Superfund site cleanup standards to Safe Drinking Water Act regulations turning on the toxicological profiles housed in the IRIS database, it is a huge step in the right direction for EPA to be proactively ...

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