Several scientists working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have raised concerns over disregard for scientific data by the organization. Through Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), four EPA scientists have filed a formal complaint with the organization’s Office of the Inspector General requesting an investigation. The complaint states that high-level employees at the EPA regularly alter vital information or delete it entirely to give a sanitized impression of toxicity and pollution.
The group has also written to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Environment asking lawmakers to investigate the trend. According to PEER, high-level EPA officials modify the language in reports to downplay the adverse effects of chemicals. Some of the words often omitted from reports include toxicity, neurotoxicity, mutagenic and carcinogenic, among others. Further, the complaint alleges that report conclusions are often altered to give a contrary impression to the scientific findings.
During former President Trump’s era, the EPA was also accused of altering scientific findings and exposing citizens to highly toxic substances. Some expected that this issue would improve with President Biden taking over. However, persistent problems are prompting whistleblowers to come out.
“These alterations of risk assessments are not just artifacts of the Trump administration; they are continuing on a weekly basis,” said Kyla Bennett, science policy director at PEER and former EPA employee.
The Toxic Substances Control Act mandates that the EPA evaluate the risk of existing chemicals and those to be imported. Failure by the agency to follow protocol and prevent the importation or distribution of toxic substances puts millions of Americans at risk.
“The resulting Material Safety Data Sheets lack information vital to prevent harmful exposures, such as proper handling procedures, personal protection needed, accidental release measures, first aid, and firefighting measures,” said PEER.
The four employees also say that managers at the agency have, in some instances, altered the levels of substances considered safe for consumption in reports. According to The Hill, managers at the agency increased the recommended level of consumption for a certain chemical by 10,000 times.
“All of these altered assessments need to be pulled back and corrected in order to protect both workers handling chemicals and the American public,” said Bennett. “EPA’s lack of accountability for scientific misconduct poses a direct danger to public health. Inside EPA, scientific integrity has become an oxymoron and a cure will require a complete overhaul.”
Via Common Dreams
Lead image via Pexels