The Environmental Protection Agency has come under fire from Republicans for failing to address problems with the toxicological assessments it uses for evaluating chemical safety reports Science AAS

The magazine stated that according to Representative Paul Brounchair of the House science committee the program's credibility is compromised as the assessments propounded by the agency fails to address fundamental issues by reviewers. The EPA announced plans to improve the process on Tuesday.

EPA's human health assessment program or IRIS ( Integrated Risk Information System) that evaluates quantitative and qualitative risk information on effects that may result from exposure to environmental contaminants, has been criticized for its assessments of the toxicity of chemicals. The IRIS' database contains EPA scientists' assessments of the toxicity of some 540 chemicals which helps inform regulations, such as drinking water or air-quality standards.

However, the Science AAA reports that committee convened by the National Academy of Sciences' (NAS') National Research Council has pointed out the IRIs for its inadequacies with regard to clarity and transparency in the last 10 years.

Jonathan Samet, an epidemiologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles said, Problems with clarity and transparency of the methods appear to be a repeating theme over the years, reported the magazine. The report stated that the NAS panel, chaired by Samet had suggested steps like including more complete discussion of methods and rationales for picking and weighing certain studies.

According to Science AAA Paul Anastas, EPA's science adviser announced certain commendable changes to the IRIS program earlier this week. In response to the NAS panel's recommendations Anastas said that IRIS documents would be shorter, clearer, more concise, and transparent. He also added that the agency would add a peer-review process in the preliminary stages of development to get scientific input on major assessments, stated the report.

However, the debate is on how much of peer review and scientific certainty is needed before the IRIS assessment is used to make regulations. Science AAA reports suggestions made by Calvin Dooley, head of the American Chemistry Council, that the NAS should review all of the IRIS' assessments until the reforms were clearly working. On the contrary Rena Steinzor, president of the Center for Progressive Reform said, Repeated rounds of redundant peer review allow the chemical industry to slow progress to a crawl.