Kyla Bennett – email@example.com (508) 230-9933
– PEER Statement –
IG Report Finds EPA New Chemical Review Process Badly Broken
The Office of Inspector General (IG) for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released an audit of EPA’s New Chemicals Program that concludes the EPA has not complied with applicable recordkeeping and quality assurance requirements when implementing its New Chemicals Program. The IG found that because of these deficiencies, “EPA does not have reasonable assurance that the new chemicals review process is properly considering and addressing risks to public health and the environment.”
Each year, EPA’s New Chemicals Program reviews hundreds of new chemicals to assess their health and environmental risks before these chemicals enter the market. The IG Report found that the New Chemicals Division, or NCD, has not finalized guidance for many of the program’s activities, such as standard operating procedures for recordkeeping and conducting exposure and hazard assessments, which are integral parts of a successful quality system. These findings echo complaints previously raised by EPA scientists represented by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
“This report signifies that the public health threat posed by the unending stream of new chemicals entering the marketplace remains largely unabated,” stated PEER Science Policy Director Kyla Bennett, a scientist and attorney formerly with EPA. “We welcome EPA’s acceptance of the IG’s recommendations as a small first step forward in reforming EPA’s broken program to assess the safety of new chemicals entering the market.”
The IG report points out that between June 22, 2016, and November 1, 2022, EPA completed 3,830 new chemical reviews, none of which were barred from entering the marketplace. “The recordkeeping problems, lack of transparency and resources flagged by the IG allows senior staff and managers in New Chemicals to skew decisions in favor of industry” notes Bennett. “We hope that the forthcoming IG reports on our clients’ allegations will demonstrate the real-life implications of the process flaws exposed in today’s report.”
PEER represents numerous EPA scientists who have made a series of disclosures to the IG and Congress about wrongdoing within EPA’s New Chemicals Program. These scientists have documented to the IG how risk assessments for new and existing chemicals have been improperly altered to completely eliminate or minimize risk calculations and that these alterations endanger both workers and the public. Four of PEER’s clients were removed from New Chemicals after objecting to these alterations, exacerbating EPA’s lack of resources and expertise in the program.
EPA scientists have complained that the agency’s Confidential Business Information system is often down which prevents completion of reviews; recordkeeping is spotty; the New Chemicals Program does not track edits to records, making it impossible for the public to know who was making changes to risk assessments, and why those changes were made; and the program lacks the resources it needs to do their job and protect human health and the environment.
PEER expects the IG to release their finding on the disclosures made by its clients later this year.