Implication of The EPA's Bold New Idea on Science, Policy, Environment & Human Health


#air pollution #Mercury #chemicals #health #Minamata #risk #science #USA

"Strengthening Transparency In Regulatory Science Rule", sounds familiar? It was covered in one of our earlier news report. By requiring data to be made public, which researchers say is impossible when it comes to decades-old landmark studies based on sensitive medical records, the rule would effectively slash the body of research that underpins the EPA's work. It has been criticized to be a regulation that will bar the EPA from considering a wide range of best available scientific studies in its rule-making, in order to tilt its regulatory work in industry's favour.

The primary target of the rule is the landmark air pollution studies that look at the health effects of fine particulate matter on the lungs, but it can touch virtually any rule relying on sensitive medical records, from lead poisoning to mercury.

Historically, the model has long held that there is a direct relationship between the dose and the level of harm, which is known as the "linear no-threshold" (or LNT) risk-averse version. This model acknowledged there are still risks associated even with the lowest levels of exposure. Some people-babies, children, the sick and elderly-are more vulnerable than others, so there is no single threshold that can be considered safe. A growing body of epidemiological evidence shows how even the tiniest exposure of some of these substances (and radiation as well) for fetuses and children can have profound effects on their development.

"However, a small community of scientists and interests, some funded by the chemical and fossil fuel industries, has argued for years that the EPA should replace its existing standards with more flexible ones. Instead of the "linear no-threshold" risk-averse version, some would prefer one that could raise the threshold at which the EPA considers exposure dangerous. In fact, they argue, there are benefits to low doses of radiation, lead, and other toxic exposures. One of them was Edward Calabrese, who wrote in his statement for the EPA in April, "The proposal represents a major scientific step forward by recognizing the widespread occurrence of non-linear dose responses in toxicology and epidemiology for chemicals and radiation, and the need to incorporate such data in the risk assessment process." " (reported by Mother Jones)

Association 3 Herissons knows no better than some of the best scientists in toxicology and epidemiology. But we are aware of the non-linear dose response, which is underpinning the regulation proposals for chemicals like endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) elsewhere in the world based on the precautionary principle learned from the late lessons. It's shocking for us if this scientific phenomenon is misinterpreted and manipulated in a way to loosen any regulations which is supposed to protect human health and environment. We'll keep an eye on the development.

For more details, please refer to Mother Jones' report & the New York Times' report.