"Reversal Haunts Federal Health Agency"

"Earlier this month, a federal health agency backed away from its earlier findings that decades of explosive detonations by the Navy on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques posed no health hazards to residents.

It was the second time this year that the agency, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, changed its mind in a highly publicized case. Last April the agency, charged with analyzing public health risks from environmental contamination,  rescinded its conclusion that contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune, N.C., posed no increased risk of cancer to adults.

Now the agency, part of the Health and Human Services Department, is facing tough scrutiny from Congress and the threat of reform legislation, with some lawmakers accusing it of cursory evaluations that often get the science wrong and ignore independent studies and community complaints.

A report last March by the staff of the House Science and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight found that the agency produced 'deeply flawed' scientific reports."

Mireya Navarro reports for the New York Times November 29, 2009.

Source: NYTimes, 11/30/2009