EPA Rejects Recommendations For Stricter Protections On Childrens Health


(Beyond Pesticides, July 14, 2004)

EPA’s Science Advisory Board suggests that EPA protections for children from carcinogenic chemicals should apply to all carcinogens, not just those that cause genetic damage, according to a July 9, 2004 article in InsideEPA.

On March 3, 2003, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft of their guidelines for cancer risk assessment which includes a children’s health supplement with specific information on assessing cancer risks to children. According to EPA, “These guidelines provide a framework for EPA scientists to assess possible cancer risks from exposures to environmental pollutants.”

For children up to age two, the new risk assessment guidelines sets chemical risk limits ten times higher, or more stringent than they currently are and three times higher for children aged two through fifteen. However, the important protection would only apply to carcinogenic chemicals that are known to be genotoxic, or cause harm to genetic material.

The Advisory Board has encouraged EPA to broaden the stricter guidelines to include all carcinogenic chemicals, stating that there is no difference in the data available for genotoxic and non-genotoxic carcinogens. Therefore there should be no reason for the two groups to be treated differently and the new safety factors should apply to all carcinogens.

EPA is not planning to follow the SAB’s recommendations, according to InsideEPA, due to time constraints and pressure from industry. EPA claims they do not have the data to justify stricter guidelines and they would not be able to meet their goal in releasing the guidelines by this summer if they were to add new information. Industry is pleased with the agency’s decision to not include stricter regulation on more chemicals.

TAKE ACTION: Let EPA know it is in the public’s best interest to adopt the recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Panel. Please contact Mr. William P. Wood by email: risk.forum@epa.gov, phone: 202-564-3361, or fax: 202-565-0062 and Mr. Michael Leavitt, EPA Administrator, by e-mail: leavitt.michael@epa.gov, phone: 202-564-4711, or fax: 202-501-1470 and tell them that while the timely release of documents is important, it should not preclude the overall safety of children.