What happened: Political officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overruled EPA scientists in a major risk assessment for a type of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemical, known as PFBS, which is used in stain and water-resistant coatings. Specifically, political officials weakened the scientific assessment by using a range of reference doses rather than a single reference dose, which gives industry and state officials the ability to cherry pick a number in that range, regardless of whether it protects people’s health. The action was so alarming that several EPA scientists asked to have their names removed from the assessment.
Why it matters: Since science serves as the basis of how we regulate toxic chemicals, it is vital that federal scientists are able to carry out scientific studies without political interference. PFBS has been linked with thyroid, kidney, and reproductive problems at very low levels of exposure and has contaminated drinking water sources across the US. By overruling the scientists, the EPA placed political considerations over its duties to protect people from exposure to a toxic chemical.
Learn more about how EPA political officials sidelined scientists and weakened the PFBS health assessment.