Harvard experts urge EPA to drop proposal for ‘transparent’ science

Harvard experts are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw a proposed rule requiring scientific “transparency” in any studies used to set agency regulations.

According to an August 10, 2018 article in the Harvard Gazette, nearly 100 leaders and faculty members at the University and its affiliated hospitals signed a letter to the EPA saying that the rule would prevent the best available studies showing harm from air, water, chemical, and other environmental pollution from informing EPA regulations.

The rule would require that any studies used to set EPA regulations be based on data that is publicly available. But critics have pointed out that many important studies rely on confidential health information, and that the scientific community judges high-quality science not on data transparency, but on rigorous peer review.

“When an individual gives private information with the promise it’ll be protected, that promise is important,” said Francine Laden, one of the signers of the letter. Laden is professor of environmental epidemiology at Harvard Chan School and the first author of follow-up studies to Harvard’s 1993 Six Cities Study, which influenced EPA pollution standards.

The letter was submitted on August 7, during the public comment period on the rule, which was proposed in April by former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. Signatories included Harvard President Larry Bacow, the deans of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, and the presidents of Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Massachusetts Eye and Ear.

Read the Harvard Gazette article: Letter opposes possible EPA shift

Learn more

Scientists say EPA proposal could undermine valid research (Harvard Chan School news)