EPA Says No Risk Assessment FACA Committee,
But Offers Some SAB Review
The US Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing its Agency-wide risk assessment practices. EPA has allowed and encouraged public involvement in this review, but the review has not been conducted by a formally established FACA committee.
Some environmental groups and other NGOs have criticized the EPA risk assessment review as being biased toward industry interests. The groups have asked EPA to reconstitute the Agency's risk assessment review under a FACA committee. EPA has so far refused to do so, but the Agency's refusals have been very diplomatic. EPA's latest publicly available word on the issue is to offer limited Science Advisory Board review.
EPA's Risk Assessment website describes the ongoing review process as follows:
"The EPA staff paper titled An Examination of EPA Risk Assessment Principles and Practices... is a product of an EPA staff review of how risk assessment is conducted at EPA. It also presents staff recommendations for EPA and interested parties to consider how EPA can strengthen and, where appropriate, improve its risk assessment practices..... EPA assembled a group of risk assessment professionals from across EPA to examine EPA's risk assessment principles and practices and to prepare this paper. This paper does not represent official EPA policy.
EPA's "Outreach Activities" are apparently insufficient for some NGOs. In a letter dated September 1, 2005, from William Farland, Acting EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science, to Joseph H. Guth, Senior Policy Analyst for Center for Environmental Health, Dr. Farland responded to Dr. Guth's "suggestion for a more formal, FACA compliant forum for discussion" of EPA's risk assessment process. Dr. Farland explains in the letter that
The staff paper itself will not be revised further. EPA released the staff paper as the first step in a multi-step process in which EPA intends to engage interested parties in a dialogue about risk assessment principles and practices to improve the practice of risk assessment. Accordingly, EPA requested public comment on the risk assessment principles and practices described in the paper with the objective of identifying particular issues for future dialogue. The formal comment period closed on June 23, 2004. However, EPA will continue dialogue on particular issues, for example, in discussions under the auspices of EPA's Science Advisory Board, other consultative groups, and professional societies with a focus on risk assessment and with states, non-governmental organizations, and tribal groups. EPA is interested in suggestions for other avenues for dialogue as well."1
"EPA plans an SAB consultation meeting late this fall. Its purpose will be to ask the SAB to help identify a number of priorities for future activities by review and discussion of: the recommendations of the staff paper; the public comments received last summer; some of the things we have heard in the meetings that we have participated in; and any additional public comments provided to the SAB." 2
The SAB is an EPA FACA committee. It is not clear at the posting of this article whether the SAB involvement described by Dr. Farland would satisfy the NGO's criticism of the non-FACA review of EPA's risk assessment practices.
1Click here for EPA Risk Assessment Review site
2Click here for Farland letter