EPA Toxic Substance Database is 55 Years Behind Schedule

Thursday, November 11, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is supposed to maintain a database of dangerous chemicals to better inform the public of risks posed by the substances. But EPA officials have fallen so far behind on updating the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) that it would take 55 years at their current pace to get things in order. The agency had promised 18 months ago to implement reforms for IRIS, which was first created in 1985. But not enough progress has been made to properly profile more than 250 chemicals and determine their potential links to cancer, birth defects and other health problems.
According to a report by the Center for Progressive Reform, “77 of the hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) listed in IRIS are missing the most important piece of information–an assessment of how much of the substance may be safely inhaled.” In 2008, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned that the Bush administration’s go-slow approach to EPA regulation was completing only two profiles a year, and putting the IRIS database at risk of becoming obsolete.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Corrective Lenses for IRIS: Additional Reforms to Improve EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (by Rena Steinzor, Wendy Wagner, Lena Pons and Matthew Shudtz, Center for Progressive Reform) (pdf)


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