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Toxics

NAFTA Environment Panel Agrees To Rare Peer Review Of Children's Health Study

An international panel of environmental policy experts formed under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has taken the unusual step of allowing an external review of its draft study of toxic chemicals' impact on children's health following criticism of the report by EPA, the Canadian government and industry groups. Critics argue the panel's report wrongly equates disposal of wastes in regulated landfills with releases into the environment and improperly links waste releases to children's exposure.

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EPA Seeks Further Testing In Delaying Asbestos Demolition Decision

EPA is delaying a decision on whether to approve a controversial method for demolishing asbestos-contaminated buildings until it completes additional testing on the technique's safety, despite previously backing the method. Critics say the method, which is less costly than normal practice, is not as protective as current standards, arguing that EPA approval could lead to its widespread use.

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SEC DOWNPLAYS CALL FOR PACT WITH EPA TO IMPROVE DISCLOSURE SCRUTINY

The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) appears to be resisting calls from congressional investigators to formalize a data-sharing agreement with EPA to improve its oversight of corporate environmental disclosure, according to EPA and SEC officials.

A top EPA enforcement official says SEC scrutiny of corporate environmental disclosures is not a top priority for commission officials. SEC officials also told Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigators that they see no need to improve the current data-sharing regime.

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EPA TO CONDUCT TESTING ON DISPUTED ASBESTOS DEMOLITION METHOD

EPA is delaying a decision on whether to approve a controversial method for demolishing asbestos-contaminated buildings until it completes additional testing on the technique's safety, despite previously backing the method.

The delay comes after agency scientists questioned the safety of the method -- known as wet demolition -- and environmentalists said its use may violate federal environmental laws, including the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act and Superfund.

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EPA STRUGGLING TO MEASURE BENEFITS OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH GRANTS

EPA is finalizing a policy to ensure agency grants result in measurable environmental benefits, but is still struggling to develop ways of quantifying environmental results stemming from research grants.

EPA officials expect to issue a final "order on environmental results under assistance agreements" in January 2005, but agency and congressional sources say EPA is still not sure how it will be able to measure the results of grants that are made for research into environmental issues.

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EPA ALLOWS GENERAL ELECTRIC TO JUSTIFY USE OF PCB DETECTION TOOL

EPA Region II Administrator Jane Kenny is allowing General Electric (GE) to prove the adequacy of its preferred polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) detection method at the Hudson River -- which could help GE and other companies reduce contaminated sediment sampling costs and scale back cleanup requirements.

One government source says that if GE can demonstrate its method is equivalent to other technologies, it could help companies facing PCB cleanups scale back the scope of any dredging requirements because they are based in part on the amount of PCBs detected.

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HOUSE DEMOCRATS URGING WHITE HOUSE TO 'QUICKLY' ADD VIEQUES TO NPL

Several House Democrats, including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), are urging the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) to add former Navy training ranges on the Puerto Rican islands of Vieques and Culebra to Superfund's National Priorities List (NPL) in order to speed cleanup there.

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NEW EPA GUIDE ON IMMUNOLOGICAL RISKS MAY TIGHTEN EXPOSURE LIMITS

EPA is planning new guidance to weigh for the first time how chemical exposures may increase human susceptibility to diseases by disrupting the immune system, a key agency official said.

The upcoming guidance could in time make such information on indirect health effects a key part of agency risk assessments and could lead to stricter limits for chemicals.

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NAFTA PANEL AGREES TO RARE PEER REVIEW OF CHILDREN'S HEALTH STUDY

A North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) panel has taken the unusual step of allowing an external review of its draft study of toxic chemicals' impact on children's health following criticism of the report by EPA, the Canadian government and industry groups. These parties argue that the panel's report wrongly equates disposal of wastes in regulated landfills with releases into the environment and improperly links waste releases to children's exposure.

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EPA STAFF PREPARE TO RECOMMEND STRICTER RISK ASSESSMENT FOR ARSENIC

An EPA workgroup will soon advise the agency to adopt a stricter estimate of the risks posed by arsenic, EPA and industry sources say, which will allow the agency to eventually adopt more stringent drinking water and hazardous waste cleanup standards for the ubiquitous contaminant.

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