American Chemistry Council Critiques Report on EPA's Formaldehyde Assessment

Aug. 30, 2023
A recent blog post raises concerns over methodology and transparency from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) weighs in on a recent press release regarding a report from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). The report focused on the EPA's 2022 draft formaldehyde assessment, part of the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program. The NASEM committee's press release initially praised the EPA's findings and garnered support from Congress. However, upon closer examination of the report, it becomes clear that the committee had limitations in its review and raised numerous critical scientific and methodological points about the EPA's work, according to the ACC.

In the Aug. 29 ACC blog post, the organization says that the NASEM committee's review was constrained by only responding to EPA's questions and reviewing materials provided by the EPA. Additionally, the committee was required to exclude other comprehensive assessments of formaldehyde and key peer-reviewed studies, which impacted the thoroughness of their evaluation. The committee acknowledged that there's no static benchmark to assess EPA's methods and didn't thoroughly evaluate if EPA's assessment met legal requirements for using the best available science.

The report highlighted concerns about EPA's lack of transparency, reproducibility and accessibility, making over 40 recommendations for improvement. Despite these concerns, the summary message of the report appeared favorable, leading to criticisms that the report's substance was downplayed in favor of a positive headline, surmises the ACC.

The report also criticized EPA for not following its own guidelines, particularly in the case of formaldehyde, which lacked an assessment plan and systematic review protocol. The failure to consider public input and alternative interpretations of scientific information was noted, reflecting limitations in the committee's review scope.

The report's inconsistencies, disregard for comprehensive scientific review and lack of transparency raised concerns about the EPA's and NASEM's adherence to scientific rigor, legal requirements and independent assessment. The ACC expressed worries about the integrity of the peer review process and took legal action to address these concerns. In conclusion, ACC and its members emphasized the need for robust, unbiased science-based assessments for effective regulatory decisions and questioned the report's adequacy in meeting these standards.

Read the entire ACC blog post.