Submitted by Judith Siers-Poisson on
The Environmental Protection Agency has dismissed a top scientist from her position as chair of a panel investigating a toxic material in electronics. Toxicologist Deborah Rice was removed from the committee after a year, and "federal records show she was removed from the panel in August after the American Chemistry Council, the lobbying group for chemical manufacturers, complained to a top-ranking EPA official that she was biased." Her "bias" is apparently that she has written and spoken out about the dangers posed by "a brominated compound known as deca," which is present in the exterior plastic case of televisions. Her removal was justified by the EPA "because of what they called 'the perception of a potential conflict of interest.' Under the agency's handbook for advisory committees, scientific peer reviewers should not 'have a conflict of interest' or 'appear to lack impartiality.'" But environmental groups have pointed out that industry-affiliated scientists often find their way onto EPA committees. The Environmental Working Group found that on seven committees in the last year alone, 17 scientists were serving, despite ties to the industries that their committee was charged with examining. "In one example, an Exxon Mobil Corp. employee served on an EPA expert panel responsible for deciding whether ethylene oxide, a chemical manufactured by Exxon Mobil, is a carcinogen."