"Chemical Firm's Champion Now EPA Expert"

A former lawyer and scientist for flame retardant companies -- who often argued the substances were safer than EPA thought -- is now in charge of an EPA program studying the safety of such chemicals.

"As a lawyer and scientist for one of the world's largest makers of flame retardants, Todd Stedeford vigorously defended chemicals added to scores of household products -- often by concluding the substances are far less dangerous than academic and government studies have determined.

Studies, legal newsletters and letters he wrote or co-wrote while at Albemarle Corp. also frequently contradicted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's positions and statements about industrial chemicals.

He argued, for example, that people could be safely exposed to one flame retardant at doses more than 500 times higher than a standard set by the EPA and accused regulators of basing their decisions about toxic chemicals on emotion rather than reason.

Now Stedeford is in charge of an EPA program studying whether dozens of industrial chemicals, including flame retardants, are too dangerous. The risk assessments conducted by his office will determine whether the agency enacts more stringent regulations for certain chemicals, attempts to force some compounds off the market -- or chooses to do nothing at all."

Michael Hawthorne reports for the Chicago Tribune September 10, 2012.

Source: Chicago Tribune, 09/10/2012