EPA Science Panel Disbanded
Date: October 11th, 2018
Agency: EPA, Federal
Explanation: Personnel Changes
On October 11, 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) disbanded the particulate matter (PM) review panel. In the past, the panel has provided advice to EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), which is responsible for reviewing the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for criteria pollutants. Under the Clean Air Act, CASAC is required to periodically review the NAAQS, and recommend appropriate changes thereto to protect public health. When reviewing the NAAQS for PM, CASAC has historically relied on advice from the PM review panel, which is comprised of two dozen university researchers and others with special expertise on the health effects of PM. The panel will not, however, have a role in CASAC’s next review. On October 11, EPA sent an email to panel members, informing them that “the CASAC PM Review Panel will no longer be involved with the Agency’s PM NAAQS Review and your service on the panel has concluded.”
Update: On December 10, 2018, EPA published “Preliminary Comments from Members of the CASAC on EPA’s Integrated Science Assessment for Particulate Matter.” The comments submitted by two CASAC members — Dr. Mark Frampton and Dr. Tim Lewis — criticize EPA’s decision to disband the PM review panel. Dr. Frampton, who is a retired pulmonologist previously based at the University of Rochester, wrote:
“Over the past 30 years, NAAQS document reviews by CASAC have been assisted by expert review panels that supplement and expand the scientific expertise brought to bear. The seven chartered CASAC members by themselves do not have the breadth and depth of knowledge or expertise in many areas that is necessary to adequately advise the EPA, and to meet the statutory requirement for a thorough and accurate review.
In order to provide the needed expertise in the review process, EPA should immediately re-appoint the PM review panel, and convene an additional CASAC public meeting to review and discuss the panel’s comments, before CASAC finalizes its advice on the current draft ISA [i.e., the Integrated Science Assessment].”
Dr. Lewis, who works at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, wrote:
“The PM advisory panel should be retained to enable more thorough review of this ISA.”
Both Dr. Frampton and Dr. Lewis were appointed to CASAC by acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.