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EPA to be Guided by Science


Michal Freedhoff, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a memorandum to staff regarding scientific integrity.


The change in policy follows revelations that in 2018 the White House directed career scientists at the EPA to alter the risk evaluations of trichloroethylene and also perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS) one of the "forever chemicals" contaminating water.


In her memo, Dr. Freedhoff noted "I affirm my commitment to you to act with scientific integrity".  She added "I expect you to do likewise when working with me and with each other".  Freedhoff now encourages scientists at EPA to openly discuss scientific opinions, point out errors when necessary and respect the world of science and risk assessment.


Her memorandum included this statement, "I expect an environment led in the first instance by OCSPP managers where everyone feels comfortable identifying errors, asking questions and expressing differing scientific opinions, all without fear either of retaliation or being denigrated for speaking up".


Currently the EPA faces litigation over dicamba registration that was granted following overt intervention.  Political appointees at the EPA directed career staff to use only a limited data set of effects and to discount specific studies and information on negative impacts.  The interference was documented and led to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacating registrations for three herbicides.