EPA replaces Trump-era chemical guidance, calling it ‘compromised’ by politics

The Biden-led Environmental Protection Agency says Trump administration political officials “compromised” an assessment of chemical dangers and has replaced it with a new one they say “upholds the tenants of scientific integrity.”

“The assessment posted today fixes the errors in the version issued earlier this year, was developed by EPA career scientists, and upholds the values of scientific integrity,” Dr. Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, acting assistant administrator for the Office of Research and Development and the agency’s science adviser said in a statement. “This PFBS (Perfluorobutane sulfonic acid) assessment reflects the best available science, involved extensive federal, state, and public engagement, and is critical to EPA efforts to help communities impacted by PFAS.” PFAS, which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, is a family of synthetic chemicals known for links to health complications.

After taking office, President Joe Biden’s EPA said that it was removing a toxicity assessment for PFAS due to allegations that Trump administration officials overruled science to make it easier for regulators set their own standards and did not offer clear conclusions. In a statement, the EPA called the new Biden era assessment part of the agency’s “commitment to restore scientific integrity.”

PFBS has been found in drinking water, wastewater and surface water, the EPA said.

The new assessment will allow communities to determine when to take action on potential health risks associated with human contact with PFBS.

The move comes shortly after the Biden administration announced the creation of a task force to review the federal government’s scientific policies to ensure they are free from inappropriate political influence, as several top health officials under former President Donald Trump publicly admit they faced political pressure while doing their jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy said in a letter to agencies that it would form an interagency task force to review federal government policies and make sure they “prevent improper political interference” from affecting research or data. The letter also says the task force aims to prevent “the suppression or distortion of scientific or technological findings.”