WASHINGTON (July 11, 2018) – The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced the re-review of several substances — including methyl acrylate (MA), ethyl acrylate (EA), and 2-ethylhexyl acrylate (2EHA) — as Group 2B or “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” While IARC had previously classified MA and 2EHA as Group 3 or “not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans,” changes made to its Monographs Preamble in 2006 have enabled the agency to reevaluate its stance on chemicals that are not only essential components of modern everyday products, but also have a proven history of safety.
“The Group 2B classifications for MA, EA, and 2EHA are erroneous and misleading. They are based on poor science and a flawed, non-transparent process. All these substances are well studied and the evidence strongly shows they are highly unlikely to cause cancer in humans. BAMM member companies stand behind the safety of their acrylates,” said Elizabeth Hunt, Executive Director of the Basic Acrylic Monomer Manufacturers, Inc. (BAMM). “It is critical that IARC both modernize its scientific practices as well as implement policies which enhance transparency and objectivity instead of misinforming the public on substances that are deemed safe by other global health organizations. A revision of the Preamble to improve the scientific practices at IARC is necessary.”
The revisions made to IARC’s Monographs Preamble in 2006 do not meet current scientific standards of transparency and objectivity, and instead foster questionable procedures for evaluating and integrating mechanistic evidence. These deficiencies in turn impact public health policy and commercial decisions around the world. The Monographs Preamble is in dire need of comprehensive and substantive review.
Although IARC has announced its intent to update the Preamble, the proposed review will occur at the 11th hour of Dr. Christopher Wild’s term as IARC Director. Given the well-documented failure under Dr. Wild’s watch to address conflicts of interest and other serious shortcomings concerning the scientific integrity and objectivity of the IARC Monographs, there’s considerable concern that if the Preamble review proceeds as planned, it will be cursory in nature and it will fall short of achieving the true reform that’s needed.
“IARC’s intent to revise its Monographs Preamble is a step in the right direction. However the most recent Monograph classifications further illustrate that it is essential for Dr. Elisabete Weiderpass’ first responsibility as Director be oversight of this process,” said Cal Dooley, President and CEO of the American Chemistry Council. “If the Preamble revision is deferred, Dr. Weiderpass can start with a clean slate and personally design the Preamble review to ensure, under her supervision, that the review is comprehensive and conducted in an open and transparent manner to produce the necessary set of critical changes that are required to restore the scientific integrity of the Monographs Program.”
Given the long-lasting implications that this update will have for the Monographs Program and Dr. Weiderpass’ tenure, the Campaign for Accuracy in Public Health Research (CAPHR) Coalition urges IARC’s Governing Council to defer its review of the Preamble until after Dr. Weiderpass has assumed leadership of the organization.
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About the Campaign for Accuracy in Public Health Research (CAPHR)
The Campaign for Accuracy in Public Health Research (CAPHR) is an education and outreach initiative to promote credible, unbiased, and balanced assessments of science as the basis of policy decisions and help the public and policymakers understand the relevance of public health studies in our daily lives. In particular, CAPHR promotes reform of the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) Monographs Program and brings to light the deficiencies, misinformation, and consequences associated with its work.