EPA backlog presents public health risk: report

November 18, 2010

The Environmental Protection Agency's process for evaluating the health hazards of chemicals is plagued with problems that leave the public at risk, according to a report issued this week by the Center for Progressive Reform, a public health and environmental protection group.

Despite announcing plans to reform the process 18 months ago, EPA has failed to meet statutory requirements to assess the health hazards of 255 chemicals. Washington-based CPR claims this failure has, in turn, halted regulatory action to protect the public from the potential risks of exposure, including cancer, birth defects and other health problems.

EPA's Integrated Risk Information System has fallen years behind in conducting chemical assessments. According to the report, if the current pace continues, it will take the agency 55 years to get through its backlog of assessments.

EPA said it is reviewing the report and undergoing efforts to update and streamline IRIS.