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EPA Takes Action to Protect Scientific Integrity

02/09/2021
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON (February 9, 2021) — President Biden’s Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking, which was issued on January 27, 2021, emphasizes the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to making evidence-based decisions and developing policies and programs that are guided by the best available scientific data.

The memo further stipulates, “Improper political interference in the work of Federal scientists or other scientists who support the work of the Federal Government and in the communication of scientific facts undermines the welfare of the Nation, contributes to systemic inequities and injustices, and violates the trust that the public places in government to best serve its collective interests.”

EPA career scientists have reviewed content shared in a January 19, 2021 press release, which can be found here , and made an initial determination that the conclusions in the PFBS (Perfluorobutanesulfonic acid, a PFAS compound) Toxicity Assessment posted in that release were compromised by political interference as well as infringement of authorship and the scientific independence of the authors’ conclusions. This constitutes a violation of the agency’s Scientific Integrity Policy and the documents have been removed from the EPA website while the agency completes its review.

“Science is the backbone of EPA and allows the agency to effectively pursue its mission to protect public health and the environment,” said senior career scientist Dr. Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Research and Development and the agency’s Acting Science Advisor. “Issuing documents, like the PFBS Toxicity Assessment, that include conclusions purporting to reflect science when in fact they are the product of biased political interference undermines the agency’s scientific integrity policy and erodes the trust that the American public has in EPA, the quality of our science, and our ability to protect their health and the environment.”

The release and the agency’s website will be updated to indicate the removal of the assessment and provide transparency around the agency’s actions.

“It is essential that the environmental policies, decisions, guidance, and regulations that impact and protect the lives of Americans are informed by the best available science. EPA is committed to ensuring that the agency rests upon a strong foundation of science,” said Dr. Orme-Zavaleta.