Dozens of scientists ask the Senate not to endorse Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency’s chemical safety office

More than 50 public health scientists from over 20 different universities have said that they are strongly opposed to the Trump administration’s nomination of Michael Dourson to lead the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) office of chemical safety and pollution prevention. In a 17 October letter to leaders of the Senate environment and public works committee, they warn that installing Dourson at the helm of this office would ‘threaten the EPA’s ability to credibly and effectively address harmful chemical exposures’.

The committee was scheduled to consider Dourson’s nomination on 18 October, but that hearing was indefinitely postponed at the last minute after it was reportedly revealed that Dourson had already been installed at the EPA as a senior adviser. If the committee were to give the go-ahead for Dourson’s nomination, his confirmation would still require a majority vote in the Senate.

While major chemical industry players like the American Chemistry Council (ACC) have backed the nomination, environmental groups have repeatedly criticised Dourson for being too cosy with the chemical and tobacco industries, and have said the consulting group he runs is supported with funding from the ACC and other industry groups.

‘Dourson has built a career of abusing science to mischaracterise real-world chemical risks and in doing so has jeopardised public health, including the health of those most vulnerable among us like pregnant women and children,’ the letter from the scientists reads. ‘His numerous publications on chemicals, from 1,4-dioxane to perchlorate to chlorpyrifos, demonstrate his tendency to contort, distort, or dismiss scientific evidence that lead to assertions that chemicals are safe at levels orders of magnitude higher than have been deemed safe by authoritative bodies.’