Issue Date: January 28, 2008
EPA Science Board Blasts Lead Decision
Science advisers for EPA excoriated the agency for even considering elimination of a national limit for lead in air. As the first step in reviewing the national air quality standard for the neurotoxic metal, the agency said it might consider revoking the regulation (C&EN, Jan. 8, 2007, page 39). Elimination of this regulation is "scientifically indefensible" and thus shouldn't be raised as an option by the agency, the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee said in a Jan. 22 letter to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. The advisers also found unacceptable the outcome of the Bush Administration's new process for reviewing and setting health-based air quality standards, which EPA used for the first time for the lead regulation. Critics say this new process diminishes the role of agency scientists and boosts political influence. According to the science advisers, the document produced by the new process lacks sufficient detail for the public to understand or evaluate how the Administration will use scientific data in deciding whether to keep, reject, or tighten the lead standard. It "does not provide an adequate basis from which to make sound policy decision," the letter concluded.
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