EPA Stops Posting “Critically Important” Data on Chemical Risks

EPA Has Not Stopped Posting “Critically Important” Data on Chemical Risks

The Environmental Protection Agency hasn’t stopped posting online data about new problems commercial chemicals might cause, resulting in frustration among public interest groups and businesses that use information to make health and safety decisions, according to an article.

The EPA says it went from posting risk notices for “hundreds of chemicals every year in its ChemView database—to posting just two notices in 2019—because the employee who updated the website retired, and because it’s not legally required to keep the website up to date.”

The article says, the only way to view the data immediately is to visit the EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. which leaves the public “completely blind to critical health and safety information for hundreds of chemicals,” said Jennifer McPartland, a health scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund.

Businesses may need the information to decide whether to purchase a chemical, design an alternative or improve its health and safety measures, said Richard E. Engler, director of chemistry for Bergeson and Campbell PC. The database contains documents that cannot be found anywhere else. This includes companies’ unpublished, internal health and toxicology studies that “were discovered through litigation and court orders,” said Robert A. Bilott, a partner with Taft Stettinius and Hollister LLP in Cincinnati.

“It is critically important that the public be able to easily and freely access and review the materials in these agency dockets,” said Bilott, whose work as an environmental litigator was featured in the film “Dark Waters.”

The EPA said it plans to resume posting risk information in ChemView soon if resources allow it to do so.

About the Author

Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety Magazine.

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