Nominee for EPA chemical safety post has deep industry ties

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s nominee to oversee chemical safety at the Environmental Protection Agency has for years accepted payments for criticizing studies that raised concerns about the safety of his clients’ products, according to a review of financial records and his published work by The Associated Press.

Michael L. Dourson’s nomination as head of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention was to be considered by a Senate committee Wednesday, but was postponed when the Senate adjourned early for the week. If confirmed, ethics experts said, Dourson’s past writings and the money paid to him and a nonprofit he founded could represent potential conflicts of interest.

Past corporate clients of Dourson and of a research group he ran include Dow Chemical Co., Koch Industries Inc. and Chevron Corp. His research has also been underwritten by industry trade and lobbying groups representing the makers of plastics, pesticides, processed foods and cigarettes.

A toxicologist, Dourson worked at the EPA for more than a decade, leaving in 1994 as the manager at a lab that assessed the health risks of exposure to chemicals. The following year, he founded Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment, a private toxicity evaluation nonprofit organization that tests chemicals and produces reports on which chemicals are hazardous in what quantities.

Dourson’s views toward industry are consistent with others Trump has selected as top federal regulators. Among them is EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who in March overruled the findings of his agency’s own scientists to reverse an effort to ban chlorpyrifos, one of the nation’s most widely used pesticides.

Dourson and his organization previously worked under contract for Dow AgroSciences, the Dow subsidiary that makes chlorpyrifos. In three papers, Dourson and his colleagues pointed to what they said were flaws in peer-reviewed studies that linked delays in fetal development with even low levels of exposure to the pesticide, commonly sprayed on citrus fruits and apples.

In a 2005 paper on the topic, Dourson and his co-authors thanked Dow for its support over a number of years to study chlorpyrifos’ toxicology and assess its risk and said that money in no way influenced their findings favoring the company’s position.

Dourson did not immediately respond Tuesday to emails or phone messages seeking comment.

Sheldon Krimsky, a Tufts University professor who studies ethics in science and medicine, said…

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