In Letter to Orszag, Lawmaker questions decision to Not Require Additional Testing on Effects of Dangerous Chemicals

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, today sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, questioning the OMB’s instruction that EPA use existing and possibly inadequate data provided by chemical companies instead of performing all or some of the tests necessary to identify chemicals that can damage the human endocrine system.“I am greatly concerned that OMB’s action in this matter may tie EPA’s hands by requiring it to ignore the basic biology as well as emerging science behind endocrine disruptors, which could cause it to miss important opportunities for advancing our scientific understanding of endocrine disruptors,” Chairman Markey said.

The EPA was instructed by Congress in 1996 to develop a screening program to test chemicals for endocrine disrupting effects. However, this Endocrine Disrupting Screening Program is only now finally getting off the ground 13 years after the legislation creating in was enacted into law. The purpose of the program is to identify chemicals that can interfere with hormonal regulation of the body, potentially leading to reproductive problems.

On October 2, in response to EPA’s request to begin collecting the information needed to assess these chemicals, OMB instructed EPA to accept “existing data” and other scientifically relevant information (OSRI) supplied by companies that manufacture these chemicals “in lieu of performing all or some” of the tests necessary to identify chemicals that have endocrine disrupting properties.  However, traditional toxicological tests are typically designed to demonstrate whether there exists a high dose of a particular chemical that can be shown to cause acute health effects.  By contrast, endocrine disruptors are known to cause adverse effects at much lower doses over sustained periods of time.   

OMB’s directive may have the unintended consequence of preventing EPA from obtaining the very information it needs to make informed decisions,” said Rep. Markey in his letter.

The Markey letter also noted that of the roughly 87,000 chemicals produced today, we know very little about the effect they may have on our hormonal systems and given the rise in thyroid disorders, infertility, juvenile diabetes breast and testicular cancer “it seems clear that there is a compelling public policy interest in empowering the EPA to collect the data needed” to assess the risk associated with these chemicals so that they can be appropriately regulated.

In the letter, Chairman Markey raised several questions related to OMB’s suggestion to use existing data to satisfy the requirements for EDSP screening.

A full copy of the letter can be found here http://markey.house.gov/docs/letteromb102209.pdf

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