EPA-Linked Consultant Undercuts Agency’s PFAS Concerns
By Ariel Wittenberg, E.A. Crunden | E&E News and Greenwire | December 8, 2021
Read the full article by Ariel Wittenberg, E.A. Crunden (E&E News and Greenwire)
“An industry toxicologist promoting artificial turf fields has repeatedly cited her work for EPA while downplaying the risks of “’forever chemicals’ used to produce plastic grass blades, making contentious claims often at odds with the agency’s own findings.
Laura C. Green has often referenced her role as an EPA special government employee while advocating for artificial turf fields in New England.
In public meetings and written emails, Green has also sought to undercut concerns about the health risks of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS. That includes comments made at a September meeting on Nantucket, where Green asserted, ‘There is no reliable evidence that PFAS harms human health.’
EPA has in fact recently targeted some PFAS for regulation due to a mounting body of evidence of negative health effects. Just last month, the agency singled out a compound calledPFOA as a ‘likely carcinogen,’ in addition to noting the chemical’s links to lower immune response and other health risks (E&E News PM, Nov. 16).
When E&E News asked about Green’s statements, EPA disavowed them.
‘EPA considers harmful PFAS to be an urgent public health threat facing communities across the United States,’ a spokesperson said. ‘The agency does not support or agree with any of the statements attributed to Ms. Green that you cited in your questions.’
EPA also said Green ‘has not ever’ worked on PFAS issues for the agency. Rather, she has assisted with peer reviews conducted by the agency’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Chemicals and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel. Green ‘was not conducting work’ for those panels when she made her comments about PFAS to New England communities this fall, the agency said.
Just days after its response to E&E News, EPA ethics officials emailed Green to ‘clarify’ how she references her work for the agency in public settings.
The term ‘special government employee’ refers to a temporary service in which workers are recruited for their expertise to serve as consultants or on advisory committees, but cannot work more than 130 days of the year for the government.
In the email, a copy of which was obtained by E&E News, EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Deputy Ethics Official Hayley Hughes told Green that if she mentioned her EPA work at public meetings, she had to clarify she was only speaking in her personal capacity and not representing the agency.
Hughes also wrote that Green ‘may not’ use her work for EPA ‘to bolster your personal presentation or specific points contained in any remarks, or imply that the EPA or the federal government endorses your personal views.’
Green did not respond to questions from E&E News about her role with EPA or the agency’s correspondence with her about it. However, she said she stood by her comments that there is no reliable evidence that PFAS harms human health. That statement, she said, is ‘not inconsistent’ with EPA’s finding that PFOA is a likely human carcinogen. Green said the agency’s declaration only ‘means that there is reliable evidence in rats and mice,’ though such studies are routinely used to consider chemicals’ health impacts.
She also said that if there was evidence that PFAS harmed humans, specifically, EPA would have already regulated them in drinking water.
‘Why do you think they never came up with drinking water standards?’ she said.
Green herself has pushed back on proposed standards for multiple PFAS at the state level. In comments to Massachusetts and Wisconsin regulators, she and colleague Edmund Crouch countered findings related to PFOA and PFOS specifically and argued against the standards being recommended.
Green, a board-certified toxicologist, holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where her focus was nutrition, according to her resume. That document also shows how extensively she has worked with industry, dating back decades.
Meanwhile, Green has often made controversial statements about the health of workers at DuPont and 3M who were exposed to PFAS.
Surveys of workers at PFAS manufacturing plants owned by DuPont and 3M exposed to PFOA have shown increased incidents of liver damage and testicular cancer for decades. But Green told attendees of the September School Committee meeting on Nantucket that workers who manufacture PFAS for the two companies ‘seem to be fine.'”…
This content provided by the PFAS Project.