According to the officials, in March 2021, the EPA's Region 6 office sent a formal nomination for the ORD to undertake a review of chloroprene, which had not been reviewed by the Agency since 2010. The nomination, however, was rejected "within a matter of weeks, and chloroprene was not submitted for a scientific review" under the IRIS program.
According to the letter, the EPA linked this decision to an agreement between the ORD and Region 6, citing a July 2021 email in which the regional office "rescinded its nomination for a scientific review of chloroprene."
The email allegedly went to "extensive lengths" to highlight Region 6's opinion that the current assessment for chloroprene "continues to reflect the state-of-the-science" and that the regional office saw no concerns or questions about the "validity, quality, or scientific rigor" of the current assessment.
However, the committee said it had learned that ORD officials allegedly authored the email sent by the Region 6 office that praised the current IRIS assessment and withdrew the request for scientific review.
"While the July 2021 email came from the same Region 6 Scientific Liaison that sent the original nomination of chloroprene, a November 2022 deposition revealed that the Region 6 Scientific Liaison stated he 'didn't write that' and 'didn't know' who wrote sections of this email. Metadata presented in the deposition demonstrates that the email had been drafted by ORD officials.
"The actions undertaken by ORD officials, who are tasked with conducting any IRIS chemical review or update, raise serious concerns that could amount to a violation of the agency's Scientific Integrity Policy."
The committee also urged EPA to sponsor "an immediate scientific review" by an independent body for the cancer risk assessment of chloroprene.
European Rubber Journal contributed to this report.