Thursday, April 17, 2008

Committee Probes Industry Influence on EPA Panels

Chemical Trade Investigation Carries Implications for Children's Health

Go to Washington Independent original
A congressional investigation is trying to determine whether ties between the chemical industry and the Environmental Protection Agency put children' health at risk. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is examining whether chemical companies influence EPA panels that review chemicals for safety. The committee's concern is that panels may be stacked with industry scientists who downplay the real risks of toxic substances.

The House committee is focusing on the American Chemistry Council, the main lobbying group for the chemical industry. This is a landmark investigation, says the Environmental Working Group, a non-partisan policy organization, because Congress doesn't usually put trade groups under the microscope.
But influence from industry could have significant consequences for children's health. Some chemicals under review have added risks for children and infants and, according to lawmakers and environmental advocates, industry scientists deny the need to regulate use of those chemicals. Recent EPA actions to weaken safety standards for children have left the relationship between industry and the government agency open to scrutiny.

The Energy and Commerce Committee's investigation is looking at several panels to find out whether industry bias played a role in weakening standards -- especially dangerous to children, who are more vulnerable to toxic exposure. In the wake of this investigation, the EPA has convened yet another panel with scientists who have industry ties -- a panel that is considering easing safeguards that protect children from carcinogens.


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