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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Michigan: EPA Needs to Keep Up With Science, Do More to Protect Vulnerable Populations

Many hazardous chemicals that cause health issues continue to be used in industrial, commercial and private settings, despite well-documented harms.

As the federal government implements the 2016 Frank Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which amends the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), experts say some of the same problems that plagued the original act are hampering progress, despite new legal requirements that promise better protection.

The TSCA legally oversees about 40,000 chemicals in the United States. The new amendments mandate protection of what the law calls susceptible and highly exposed populations, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not adequately assessing the risk to these populations in their first 10 risk evaluations, experts from the University of Michigan and University of California San Francisco write in a commentary in PLOS Biology.

In their article, Dr. Patricia Koman, research investigator in environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and co-authors recommend key scientific and risk assessment principles to inform health protective chemical policy. 

“The science is and has been clear: some people are more vulnerable to toxic chemical exposures than others or are more highly exposed, and as a result they need extra protection. Deregulatory policies like the current U.S. approach are bad for health,” said Dr. Koman. “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s risk evaluation methods have not kept up with current science, do not account for widely accepted risk evaluation practice, and as a result leave our communities and vulnerable groups like children at risk.”

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