EU court overturns aquatic toxicity classification, putting another hole in EPA’s Relative Potency Factor approach to PAH mixtures

Posted by Anne LeHuray, October 11, 2015

In a rare win for science, the subscription news service Chemical Watch reports that

The European General Court has annulled part of the mandatory classification of the substance CTPHT [coal tar pitch, high temperature], following an appeal by 18 companies.

Its ruling means CTPHT is no longer classified as a substance with category 1 acute and chronic aquatic toxicity…

In its written opinion, which is available here, the Court took note of the very low aqueous solubility of coal tar pitch, which is in contrast with the assumption made by European Chemical Agency’s (ECHA’s) Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) that all of the individual PAHs dissolved in water and were therefore available to aquatic biota. According to the Court’s opinion, the highest tested actual solubility of coal tar pitch was 0.0014%, but the European Commission accepted ECHA’s individual polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) constituent method as the basis of the “category 1 acute and chronic aquatic toxicity” classification. The PAH constituent method resulted in a calculated solubility of 9.2%. The Court concluded

…such a value is not realistic, given that the maximum rate is 0.0014%.

According to Chemical Watch, the Court’s ruling is a landmark case in the EU because, apparently for the first time, it sets limits on the discretionary powers of EU government agencies when assessing chemical risks.

The ruling has significance to how the US EPA assesses PAHs as well. Continue reading

Abuse of Science in Texas: Secret Science Reform Needs to Apply to More than Just EPA

Posted by Anne LeHuray, February 21, 2015

Originally published by American Thinker (November 26, 2014)

On November 19, 2014, the House of Representatives passed HR 4012, the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014. The bill would prohibit the US Environmental Protection Agency from regulations based on “science that is not transparent or reproducible.” Hooray! Reproducibility is the touchstone of science. Transparency is the way to ensure that scientists who want to reproduce another scientist’s results can try to do so. No scientist anywhere would argue against reproducibility, nor should any scientist argue that research results used to make regulatory decisions (such as drug approvals, emission limits, product bans) be exempt from transparency. Unfortunately transparency has not always been a priority. Examples of the current reproducibility crisis in the sciences can be found here, here, here, here and here. A requirement to use transparent, reproducible science should apply to all government agencies, not just EPA. The government need not replicate the science itself, just make sure the information needed for reproducibility is readily available. Just one of the many examples from the pavement coatings industry’s decade-long effort to obtain data from the US Geological Survey illustrates the point. Continue reading