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Policy

EPA Program To Protect Children Falls Short

by Britt E. Erickson
August 1, 2011 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 89, ISSUE 31

EPA’s program for evaluating the risks of chemicals to children has failed to accomplish its goals because it relied on industry to voluntarily hand over safety information, a report from EPA’s inspector general concludes. The report recommends that EPA design and implement a new process that identifies chemicals of highest concern to children, requires industry to provide EPA with safety data on those chemicals, and disseminates the information to the public. The Voluntary Children’s Chemical Evaluation Program began in 2000 under EPA’s Chemical Right-to-Know Initiative. The program is no longer operational, and EPA does not plan to revive or replace it, according to the report. As a result, “there is still no readily understandable source of chemical exposure information that the general public can access to determine potential risks to children,” the report states. EPA says it is addressing the concerns through efforts, first announced in September 2009, to enhance its Existing Chemicals Program. Those efforts include developing action plans for chemicals of highest concern, requiring industry to provide information needed to understand chemical risks, and increasing public access to chemical hazard information.

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