US EPA delayed, dropped chemical risk assessments

Top officials at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have halted evaluations of the human health risks of nine chemicals, including formaldehyde, a March 4 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concludes. This comes after the EPA postponed the release of many chemical assessments for nearly six months last year, says the GAO, the nonpartisan, investigative arm of Congress.

The EPA has a program that assesses the safety of chemicals used in consumer and industrial products. In the past, the program was criticized for slow results and a lack of transparency in the assessment process. The GAO found EPA made improvements in both areas of the assessment process. Its review process, for example, provided a clear view of the work behind its assessments. 

However, between June and December 2018, EPA leadership directed the program to stop the assessment process during discussions about program priorities. EPA has responded to initial statutory deadlines in the Toxic Substances Control Act, but challenges remain.

Read a recent article from Chemical Engineering and News on this report: