If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.


Chemical Regulation

US EPA to revamp risk evaluation process after harsh criticism

National Academies report recommends overhaul of approach for identifying scientific evidence

by Britt E. Erickson
February 20, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 6


In an about-face, the US Environmental Protection Agency has abandoned a Trump-era process for deciding which safety studies and other evidence to include in its chemical risk evaluations. The action follows a scathing report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that calls the approach “unworkable.”

The EPA developed the controversial method in 2018 to guide the agency’s first 10 chemical risk evaluations under 2016 revisions to the Toxic Substances Control Act. The National Academies committee found the process difficult to follow, saying it is not well documented. The lack of details about specific steps related to identifying scientific evidence led to “reduced confidence in the findings,” the report says.

The EPA says it is no longer using the approach and is developing a new protocol that incorporates the process used by the agency’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program, as recommended by the National Academies’ report. The agency plans to publish and request input from stakeholders on the new protocol later this year.

Environmental groups, which were critical of the EPA’s risk evaluation method under the Trump administration, applauded the changes. “EPA must substantially improve this approach to ensure that risk evaluations are scientifically robust and protect public health,” Jennifer McPartland, senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, says in a statement. The EPA’s announcement “is a welcome signal that it is prioritizing health and the use of strong science in its decision-making,” she says.



This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.