Currently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency evaluates chemicals through its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program, which is supposed to inform decisions on regulations and policies related to safe human exposures to more than 540 chemicals. The GAO, however, has concluded that:
The IRIS database is at serious risk of becoming obsolete because EPA has not been able to routinely complete timely, credible assessments or decrease its backlog of 70 ongoing assessments.Further, past recommendations from the GAO on how to improve the timeliness and effectiveness of the IRIS program have also gone unimplemented. One example: The GAO had recommended that IRIS reviews should include comments from other federal agencies to make assessments more transparent, but the EPA continues to exclude such expert feedback from the public record.
A report summary is available online, and the Chronicle's feature from April 10 on the disturbing impacts of chemicals and the government's lax regulations is at our website.