EPA Chemical Study Changed by Political Appointees
On January 13, 2021, Politico reported that political appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had directed staff in the pesticides office to change a toxicity assessment for the chemical perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS). A draft of the assessment, released for public comment in November 2018, had included a since "reference dose" figure reflecting the maximum safe level of daily oral exposure to PFBS. However, in the final assessment, the single reference does value was replaced with a range of values. According to the Politico report, the change was "made by staffers in the agency's pesticides office at the direction of political officials." Several scientists involved in developing the assessment objected to the change, with two asking to have their names removed from the document.
Biden Administration Response:
On February 9, 2021, EPA announced that it was withdrawing the PFBS toxicity assessment. The announcement indicated that career scientists had determined that the conclusions in assessment "were compromised by political interference as well as infringement of authorship and the scientific independence of authors' conclusions." The announcement referenced President Biden's Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking, which states that "[i]mproper political interference in the work of Federal scientists . . . undermines the welfare of the Nation, contributes to systemic inequalities and injustices, and violates the trust that the public places in government."