The Center for Truth in Science released the following statement regarding recent efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to disregard an assessment of the toxicity of perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS) and its related salt, potassium perfluorobutane sulfonate (K+ PFBS) compound prepared by the agency’s scientists. The EPA action appears to be based on reporting by Politico.
EPA officials allege that in the final days of the Trump Administration, the PFBS report was altered, resulting in a range of values for the chemical’s toxicity, as opposed to the single value that was in an initial assessment from career scientists.
Including a range of values to reflect inherent scientific uncertainty in such reports is considered solid scientific practice. A range of values more accurately reflects the potential hazard to a drug, chemical, or compound. Rarely is there an instance when scientific research can produce a result that demonstrates that an exact level of exposure will cause a specific health hazard or disease in every human. Science just doesn’t work that way. Ranges allow policymakers to assess the potential risks of exposure and weigh them against the potential public health, social, and economic benefits of the use of a drug, chemical, or compound.
If the Administration based its decision on this reporting, this is a potential setback for scientific integrity, and an unfortunate example of political ideology outweighing careful, scientific reporting on chemical research. However, it is an opportunity for President Biden to balance the scales in favor of sound science, a promise he regularly made on the campaign trail.