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Sciences International

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Sciences International Inc. (SII) is a small, three-person Alexandria, Virginia (USA)-based science consulting firm which describes providing consulting services on "scientific and technical issues relating to the impact of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, biologics, and physical agents on human health and the environment."[1] It is a subsidiary of Tetra Tech Corporation. On its website it identifies its specialist areas as "Biostatistics, Ecological Risk Assessment, Environmental Audits, Epidemiology, Exposure Assessment, Health Risk Assessment, Reproductive & Endocrine Health, REACH and Toxicology".[2]

Under its former president, Elizabeth L. Anderson (known as "Betty Anderson"), the company had a role in helping big business escape government regulation of the production or use of hazardous chemicals. (Anderson left the company in mid-2006). In this capacity, SII in the past had an in-depth relationship with the tobacco industry.[3] The current president, Dr. Herman Gibb, states that the company has changed substantially since Dr. Anderson left and he took over, and that he does not accept money from, or do work for tobacco companies.[4][5]

Previous tobacco industry involvement

CIAR

Under Dr. Anderson, SII was a key subcontractor to the Center for Indoor Air Research, a tobacco industry front group set up to perform research and develop data to undermine the case for smoking restrictions worldwide. According to John Rupp, legal counsel for CIAR, CIAR served as "a credible and effective vehicle for conducting the research that is needed to buttress the industry's position."[6] [7] [8]

16 Cities study

SII also assisted with the production of the "16 Cities Study," a 1993-94 study that the tobacco industry funded clandestinely through CIAR to develop data showing that workplace exposures to secondhand smoke were negligible.[9] The study was specifically conceived and designed to oppose the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's regulation of secondhand tobacco smoke in the workplace. R.J. Reynolds was extensively involved in developing the study, but the company's role was not fully disclosed. The results of the 16 Cities Study have been widely cited by tobacco industry allies and supporters in legislative and regulatory hearings to justify the view that smoking is an insignificant source of indoor air pollution. In 1999, SII provided an interim report on the 16 Cities study to the Lorillard Inc. and Philip Morris tobacco companies. In a 2004 article in the medical journal Tobacco Control, researchers found "serious biases in the way that the sample [in the 16 Cities Study] was selected that led to low exposure values being reported [for secondhand smoke]."[10] [11] [12]

Thwarting proposed more stringent phosphine regulations

On December 23,1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed for public comment a series of new safety requirements to be used when fumigating products with aluminum or magnesium phosphide. EPA proposed a new exposure standard that was 10 times lower than the existing standard for phosphine at the time. Phosphine is critical to the tobacco, food, alcohol, grain, nut, and pest control industries because it was the only fumigant available to control insects in stored commodities. R.J. Reynolds' Research & Development (R&D) department led a coalition of industries in fighting the new EPA standards. According to an internal RJR email, SII worked with RJR's "Phosphine Coalition" to draft a report that would "convince EPA that a 0 .03 ppm exposure limit is too conservative and that the current limit of 0 .3 ppm Is appropriate." RJR, Lorillard and Brown & Williamson together paid SII $50,000, Philip Morris paid $40,000 and funding was also sought from United States Tobacco Company (manufacturer of spit tobacco) to produce a scientific report that supported the industries' view that the exposure standard for phosphine should not be changed. SII sent a draft scientific report on phosphine to RJR for comment. SII incorporated changes RJR recommended prior to submitting it to EPA.[13] [14] [15] RJR boasted that the work of the coalition "resulted in the EPA Increasing the standard to a more reasonable level. The Coalition plans to continue working with the EPA with the hopes of Increasing the standard even more. The efforts of the Coalition will save RJRT many millions of dollars."[16]

Subsequent child deaths after phosphine pesticide application

In February 2010, two girls in Utah died after a phosphine pesticide was applied near their home; this followed deaths of two other children after phosphine application, a five-year-old South Dakota girl in 2002 and a 4-year-old Texas girl in 2007.[17] Two months later the EPA imposed restrictions on phosphine use, effectively banning it in residential areas[18], [19]

U.S. Government Work

The U.S. Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction "was established within the National Institutes of Health to assess the dangers of chemicals and help determine which ones should be regulated," reported Marla Cone for the Los Angeles Times in March 2007. "But much of the agency's work has been conducted by" Sciences International, "a private consulting company ... that has been funded by more than 50 industrial companies."[20]

SII "produces the first draft of the center's reports" and helps select "members of its scientific review panel." In response to the news, Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative Henry Waxman called for "disclosure of Sciences International's potential conflicts of interest" before a review of its report on bisphenol A, "a compound in plastics that has been linked to reproductive damage." Sciences International's private clients have included two manufacturers of bisphenol A, Dow Chemical Co. and BASF.[21]

According to the Los Angeles Times, Sciences International has bragged of its government ties to potential industry clients: "In a letter soliciting R.J. Reynolds as a client in 1999," the company's president at the time, Dr. Elizabeth Anderson, "boasted about its close collaboration with the federal reproductive health center, as well as the EPA and other federal agencies."[20]

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) investigated SI's actions in producing the Bisphenol A review. On July 24, 2007 DHHS completed an audit that exonerated SI. The audit found that "SI reliably made changes to the draft reports requested by the expert panel and the audit findings "documented nearly complete fidelity between changes requested by the expert panel and changes appearing in the draft expert panel reports." [22]

Allegations of Conflicts of Interest

In April 2007, the National Institutes of Health temporarily suspended Sciences International's work for the U.S. Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction. The move came in reaction to reports that the firm "had been reviewing the health dangers of chemicals for the government while also working for the chemical industry." However, an evaluation of the firm's work continued, and its $5 million government contract, "which runs through June 2008," remained in force, reported Marla Cone for the Los Angeles Times.[23]

After Cone's earlier reporting, the NIH asked Sciences International "to conduct its own internal investigation." The self-reporting admitted that Sciences International had been "paid by three industry associations" -- the American Chemistry Council, the United Soybean Board, and "a styrene industry trade group" -- "to perform consulting work on three chemicals that it also reviewed for the government reproductive health center." However, the firm claimed that "no conflicts existed that impaired judgments or objectivity," and that employees doing government work "have historically been insulated" from industry contracts. The director of the Environmental Working Group, among others, expressed skepticism and called for "an independent investigation."[23]

However, in April 2007, the National Institutes of Health fired Sciences International, due to its conflicts of interest. The firm "was in the fourth year of a $5 million, five-year contract" with NIH, reported the Washington Post.[24]

SII's Bisphenol A report found to be unbiased

As noted above, in the section of this article about work SII has done for the U.S. Federal Government, the National Toxicology Program officials audited SII's Bisphenol A report and "found it unbiased," according to an article in the April 16, 2008 Los Angeles Times. The article stated,

A year ago, the Los Angeles Times reported that the government was basing its BPA decision on a summary of the science drafted by a private company, Sciences International, which had financial ties to more than 50 chemical companies and groups. The company was then fired. National Toxicology Program officials audited the report and found it unbiased, so it was used to reach its conclusions.[25]

Clients

The consulting firm "has been funded by more than 50 industrial companies," reported the Los Angeles Times, including: [20][21]

On its website SII also lists[26]:

Personnel

Contact Information

Sciences International Inc.
King Street Station
1800 Diagonal Road, Suite 500
Alexandria, VA 22314
Tel: 703-684-0123
Fax: 703-684-2223
Email: contactATsciences.com (substitute at "@" sign for the "AT")
Website: http://www.sciences.com/

SourceWatch Resources

External links

References

  1. Sciences International Inc., accessed April 2008.
  2. Herman Gibb, "Message from the President", accessed April 2008.
  3. J.A. Seckar, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Untitled financial document Invoice. July 20, 1999. Brown & Williamson Bates No. 144011113.
  4. Per Telephone conversation with Anne Landman, April 14, 2008.
  5. Herman Gibb, Ph.D., M.P.H., President, Sciences International, Inc. Message from the President From corporate Web site, accessed April 25, 2008
  6. Sciences International, Inc. Overview of Phase 1 Report Environmental Tobacco Smoke" Recommended Future Studies July 29, 1998. Brown & Williamson Bates No. 566945884/5900.
  7. Elizabeth (Betty) L. Anderson, Sciences International Workplan to Perform Two ETS-Related Studies Submission II Letter. October 2, 1998. Brown & Williamson Bates No. 358010841/0850.
  8. J.P. Rupp, Untitled letter March 12, 1993. Philip Morris Bates No. 2023053717/3720.
  9. R. Jenkins, A. Palausky, R. Counts, C. Bayne, A. Dindal and M. Guerin, Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in sixteen cities in the United States as determined by personal breathing zone air sampling. J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol 6:473–502, 1996.
  10. Richard L. Barnes, S. Katharine Hammond and Stanton A. Glantz, "The Tobacco Industry's Role in the 16 Cities Study of Secondhand Tobacco Smoke: Do the Data Support the Stated Conclusions?", Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 114, Number 12, December 2006.
  11. Sciences International Interim Report, US 16 Cities ETS Study Scientific report. June, 1999. Lorillard Bates No. 83205127/5145.
  12. J Drope, SA Bialous and SA Glantz "Tobacco Industry efforts to present ventilation as an alternative to smoke-free environments in North America", Tobacco Control 2004;13;41-47, page 4.
  13. J. Seckar, "FW: Phosphine report", email, January 7, 2000. Bates Number 2073095262C.
  14. J. Seckar, "Phosphine Coalition - Financial Support for Sciences International", email August 6, 1999. Bates Number 521558599.
  15. J. Seckar, Sciences International Manuscript Entitled "Risk Assessment of Phosphine Gas Exposures", February 2, 2000. Bates Number 530765042/5042.
  16. RJ Reynolds, " R&D 1999 Accomplishments", March 8, 2000. Bates Number 522497112.
  17. Judy Fahys (2010-02-19). Poison linked to death of Utah girls [was championed by tobacco lobby]. Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved on 2010-05-04. “In 1998, a coalition led by the tobacco industry beat back the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed regulations that, in effect, would have banned the residential use of aluminum phosphide.... the EPA's proposed buffer zones were scrapped completely, and the pesticide was cleared for use outside 15 feet of homes, as it previously had been...And the EPA's plan to require warnings for neighbors up to 750 feet away were abandoned, too.”
  18. Judy Fahys (2010-04-08). EPA restricts pesticide implicated in death of two Layton sisters. Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved on 2010-05-04.
  19. Amy Joi O'Donogh and Geoff Liesik (2010-04-07). EPA bans residential use of pesticide linked to Toone girls from Layton's deaths. Deseret News. Retrieved on 2010-05-04.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Marla Cone, "Public health agency linked to chemical industry: The work of a federal risk-assessment center is guided by a company with manufacturing ties. Some scientists see bias," Los Angeles Times, March 4, 2007.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Marla Cone, "Chemical agency ties under review: A firm with industry connections is removed from overseeing a federal evaluation on the safety of bisphenol A," Los Angeles Times, March 7, 2007.
  22. Department of Health and Human Services, National Toxicology Program Audit of Literature Cited and Fidelity of Requested Changes to Draft Bisphenol A Expert Panel Reports July 24, 2007
  23. 23.0 23.1 Marla Cone, "NIH sidelines contractor in conflict inquiry: The company worked for chemical makers while also analyzing their compounds for health risks," Los Angeles Times, April 4, 2007.(This link only carries part of the article).
  24. Lyndsey Layton, "NIH Drops Contractor For Conflict of Interest," Washington Post, April 14, 2007.
  25. Marla Cone, Los Angeles Times Chemical in plastic may harm human growth, April 16, 2008
  26. "Clients", accessed April 2008.
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