Monday, July 25, 2011

Inspector General Says Voluntary Children's Chemical Safety Program Failed to Protect Children

As I noted back in December 2010, EPA's Inspector General's office had launched an inquiry into the Voluntary Children’s Chemical Evaluation Program (VCCEP) program because of complaints that it was ineffective.  The IG has now completed their report and the findings are not good.  In it's report released on July 21, 2011, the IG found that the VCCEP pilot program "did not achieve its goals to design a process to assess and report on the safety of chemicals to children."  Further, the IG found that the design of the VCCEP pilot itself was flawed, and "did not allow for desired outcomes to be produced."

Specific problems include "a flawed chemical selection process" and a "lack of an effective communication strategy."  The IG also specifically pointed at the lack of industry effort, "who chose not to voluntarily collect and submit information," as well as EPA's "decision not to exercise its regulatory authorities" under TSCA to "compel data collection."

The IG report recommends that EPA should design and implement a new process that:
  • identifies the chemicals with highest potential risk to children
  • applies the TSCA regulatory authorities as appropriate for data collection
  • interprets results and disseminates information to the public, and 
  • includes outcome measures that assure valid and timely results.
In a response from EPA included in the report, EPA concurred with the IG's findings and indicated that work was ongoing in the existing chemicals program in an attempt to address the IG's concerns. The IG wasn't necessarily satisfied with EPA's response, and stressed the importance of having a workable program to protect children from chemical exposure.

The full report from the EPA's Inspector General can be downloaded here.

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