EPA Unveils Testing List | June 18, 2007 Issue - Vol. 85 Issue 25 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 85 Issue 25 | p. 13 | News of The Week
Issue Date: June 18, 2007

EPA Unveils Testing List

Critics say EPA's endocrine disrupter screening program will miss dangerous chemicals
Department: Government & Policy

EPA HAS PUBLISHED for public comment a draft list of 73 pesticides and inert ingredients that will be tested under the agency's endocrine disrupter screening program (www.epa.gov/oscpmont/oscpendo). The agency stresses that the listed substances were chosen because of their potential for widespread exposure, not because they are suspected endocrine disrupters.

The long-awaited list moves forward a program that was supposed to report its first results to Congress in 1999. That program has languished due to a lack of funding and personnel.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals interfere with hormonal action, causing a variety of effects, including harm to the reproductive tract. EPA testing of the listed pesticides will take place in two phases: Tier 1 tests will be quick screens to find potential endocrine disrupters; Tier 2 tests will be more definitive rodent assays.

The American Chemistry Council calls the list "an important milestone." It supports EPA's screening program but emphasizes that the agency's first imperative should be to validate all the screens and tests it plans to use, says ACC toxicologist Richard A. Becker.

Critics have a different view of the program. Frederick S. vom Saal, a biology professor at the University of Missouri, contends that the program fails to prohibit the use of rodent strains that don't respond to known endocrine disrupters. "Also, the program doesn't prohibit the use of rodent chows that mask the effects of hormone disrupters," he notes.

Critics also claim that 10 substances on the draft list are known endocrine disrupters, so it would be wasteful to retest them. For example, "atrazine is on the list, and EPA has already declared atrazine an endocrine disrupter," says Gina Solomon, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Mark Maier, a toxicologist at CropLife America, calls the program "wasteful and redundant" for different reasons: "Pesticides are the most thoroughly tested chemicals on the planet. Scientists have already looked for all the endocrine effects and found none."

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