A House committee has opened an investigation into possible conflicts of interest concerning members of U.S. EPA expert panels that advise the agency on matters such as banning or restricting the use of certain toxic chemicals. The EPA stirred up controversy last year when it dismissed a toxicologist from a panel that was reviewing the potential health dangers of deca, a flame retardant widely used in electronics, after the American Chemistry Council claimed the expert was biased toward banning it. However, efforts to weed out potentially biased panel members with direct ties to industry have been much less successful. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, which will be conducting the investigation, cited eight cases of EPA advisory panel members or consultants who were getting direct support for their research from the chemical industry. The Environmental Working Group last month said it also found a number of industry-related conflicts of interest on EPA panels.

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