Local News
Local News
Express Checkout
National & World News
Buzz List
Arts & Entertainment
Event Listings
7-Day Menu Planner
Consejos/Advice - English
Consejos/Advice - Spanish
Real Estate
Letters To The Press
This Week's Cover Story
Message Boards
Contact Us
New EPA Guidelines on Cancer and Children
Some Say They're Soft on Industry

Last Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released new guidelines for assessing cancer risk from exposures to environmental pollutants, including the first such guidelines specifically addressing cancer risks to children. In the works for years, the two documents are supposed to guide EPA scientists in their investigations.

“These guidelines will help us apply the most up-to-date science and to incorporate new science as it becomes available in assessing the risks associated with environmental exposures to carcinogens,” says Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Research and Development Tim Oppelt. “EPA’s guiding principle is that our cancer risk assessments be public health protective.”

But opponents are saying the guidelines make it too easy for industry to raise obstacles that would delay identification and regulation of dangerous chemicals and thus endanger public health.

One set of guidelines describes possible approaches that EPA could use in assessing cancer risks exposures to children from 0 to 16 years of age. It includes a review of existing scientific literature on chemical effects in animals and humans. The young peoples’ guidance summarizes the results of cancer studies that investigated early life exposure, EPA’s analysis of those studies, and analysis to strengthen the scientific basis for adjusting from studies conducted in adults to children.

The agency says this document is consistent with the National Research Council’s 1994 recommendation that “EPA assess risks to infants and children whenever it appears that their risks might be greater than those of adults.”

But the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is critical of the new guidelines, saying that the White House Office of Management and Budget undermined them by “inserting language in the guidelines that make it easy for industry to block EPA from following them when assessing cancer-causing chemicals.”

“The White House decided it was more important to protect the chemical industry than protect our kids from cancer,” says Dr. Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist with NRDC’s environmental health program.

The Office of Management and Budget inserted language allowing for “expert elicitation,” opening the door for any outside party to challenge the way EPA applies the guidelines to assess chemicals, Sass says.

Such a challenge could slow the agency down for months, if not years, in making a decision on regulating a cancer-causing chemical, according to NRDC.

The Office of Management and Budget also weakened the guidelines by adding language requiring any EPA cancer evaluation to meet the standards of the Data Quality Act, a law designed by tobacco industry consultants to quash protective regulations, Sass says.

By opening the process to relentless industry challenges, she said, the White House “set the bar so high that children will not be adequately protected from many cancer-causing chemicals.”

Read both documents online at: http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=116283


Email this page   Print this page Long Island Press : Message Board
Designed, Developed, Hosted