EPA chemical-review process sucks, says GAO
U.S. EPA reviews of the health risks posed by ubiquitous chemicals are hampered by extensive nonscientist involvement, says a report from the Government Accountability Office. The EPA review process, rejiggered by the White House in 2004, is cloaked in secrecy, causes years of delay, and has lost credibility, the GAO says. The Defense Department, Energy Department, and NASA, all of which have a vested interest in potentially toxic chemicals, participate “at almost every step in the assessment process,” according to the report. An EPA scientist, speaking anonymously, agrees: “Unless there is concurrence by other agencies … things don’t go forward. The scientists feel as if they have lost complete control of the process, that it’s been taken over by the White House and that they’re calling the shots.” Chemicals that the EPA has yet to determine carcinogen risks for include perchloroethylene, which is widely used in dry cleaning; degreasing agent TCE; and formaldehyde.