Rusyn to serve on new NRC committee to recommend framework for safer chemical substitutions

Ivan Rusyn, MD, PhD, professor of environmental sciences and engineering at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has been named to the National Research Council’s committee, “Design and Evaluation of Safer Chemical Substitutions – A Framework to Inform Government and Industry Decisions.” The Council is under the auspices of the National Academies.

The newly established committee will develop a decision framework for evaluating potential safer substitute chemicals as determined by human health and ecological risks. The committee will identify the scientific information and tools required by regulatory agencies and industry to improve and increase consideration of potential health and environmental impacts early in the chemical design process.

“Understanding which chemicals are potentially hazardous to human health and the environment is important for improving public health,” Rusyn said. “However, equally important is the challenge of understanding what chemical substitutions may be used to keep the pace of progress in material design and manufacturing of consumer products. While manufacturers, retailers, consumers and regulatory agencies are all interested in reducing or eliminating potential harmful impacts of controversial chemicals (such as bisphenol A) found in common household goods, a universally-accepted approach to evaluation of substitutes is lacking. This committee is charged with proposing a consensus approach.”

Rusyn is a national leader in toxicology and environmental health sciences and an expert on the mechanisms by which environmental factors may pose threat to human health. He currently serves on several NRC committees, including the Committee on Toxicology, Committee on Use of Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions, and two committees reviewing the listings of chemicals formaldehyde and styrene in the Report on Carcinogens, a federally mandated document that includes chemicals known or reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens.

He also served on two NRC committees that reviewed EPA’s human health assessments of the chemicals perchloroethylene and formaldehyde. Rusyn’s research at UNC applies molecular, biochemical, genetic and genomics approaches to understanding how various poisons and pollutants in the environment adversely can affect human health and potentially cause cancer.