GAO: EPA's toxic chemical program needs guidance

The EPA also does not describe what resources it will need in the future or outline the key responsibilities of each staff member, the report claims.  

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Though the EPA has been attempting to reform the troubled toxic chemical program, which the GAO in 2009 found to have a high risk of waste, fraud and abuse, the length of time required to issue rules and collect information from industry has hampered the agency's efforts. 

According to the report, "the results of EPA's activities, in most cases, have yet to be realized." 

"EPA could be investing valuable resources, time and effort without being certain that its efforts will bring the agency closer to achieving its goal of ensuring the safety of chemicals," the report asserts. 

The government oversight office estimated that it would take a decade at the EPA's current pace for it to finish assessments of the 83 chemicals it has prioritized for risk assessment. 

The report said that the EPA should "develop strategies that address challenges impeding its ability to ensure chemical safety and identify the resources needed" to carry them out. 

The GAO suggested the agency should consider issuing rules to require chemical companies to report chemical data, such as they have already submitted to the European Union's European Chemicals Agency. The report also advises the EPA to come up with further data-collection methods and indentify needed resources.

The GAO report covered agency activities from December 2011 to March 2013.