Yet one official, who holds a senior leadership role in the agency, felt that the dangers of PCBTF should not be mentioned in the assessment. In a December 18, 2019, email she described the chemical as “just a solvent there as a part of making it,” according to screenshots of the email that the whistleblowers shared with The Intercept. (In the hopes of minimizing retaliation against them, the whistleblowers are choosing not to disclose the official’s name.)
Although consumers and workers would be exposed to the chemical regardless of the manufacturers’ intentions, she argued that because PCBTF was not intended to be an ingredient in the final product, its health effects should not be considered in the assessment.
At a meeting that same day, the official, who holds a higher rank within the agency than all the others engaged in the discussion, pointed the scientists to a memo — or rather, she threw it at them, as several of the whistleblowers recently recalled. The 1985 memo addressed when the EPA should assess the risk from a new chemical substance. The official saw it as evidence that PCBTF should not be considered when assessing the paint and told the toxicologists assembled at the meeting to “Read it. Follow it.”