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SST Committee Probes Scientific Integrity of EPA IRIS Program

Oct 12, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Subcommittee on Environment Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) today sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt requesting a briefing, documents and information on the operational and scientific integrity of the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program within the EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

The letter states:

The Committee is concerned about persistent issues regarding the difficulty to correct IRIS assessments that appear to use low-quality science to justify results.  Moreover, it appears a troubling pattern has emerged with regard to the IRIS program in which credible scientific evidence is disregarded when amendments and corrections are requested for assessments.  Lastly, the Committee is concerned about the merit of IRIS assessments completed prior to EPA adopting NAS-recommended reforms to its processes and science.

Failing to grant reviews of IRIS assessments that clearly rely upon low-quality data is an indication that EPA has ignored the best available science.  As IRIS determinations are important markers for understanding the risk of chemicals in the natural environment, this practice is unacceptable for an agency that is entrusted to protect the health of the American people.  We are all committed to establishing the highest level of scientific integrity, in which review and reassessment are integral parts.  Unfortunately, it appears that the IRIS program does not live up to these scientific ideals.

Background

On September 6, 2017, the Subcommittee on Environment and the Subcommittee on Oversight held a hearing to examine the operational and scientific integrity of the EPA IRIS program that examined issues raised in reports from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

115th Congress