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A database used to evaluate the risk of certain chemicals has become a flashpoint of debate among lawmakers. 

Called the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), the EPA-led effort provides an encyclopedia-like guide to state agencies on toxic hazards to help them assess the impact of a chemical accident or spill.

In his budget, President Trump proposed eliminating funding for the program all together. But a House appropriations bill this summer instead cut some funding but kept the program above water.

Now Democrats and Republicans have continued to butt heads over whether or not the program is running smoothly — and what its future should be.

At a Sept. 6 hearing before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Republicans criticized the EPA for not making changes that were proposed in 2014.  

The Houston Chronicle reports that in Texas there is also still disagreement about whether or not the EPA uses the best information to make its conclusions.

“IRIS assessments are not based on sound science. There are multiple instances of the IRIS program relying on outdated or flawed studies,” Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill, told the Chronicle.

One toxicologist, whose work is supported by the American Chemistry Council, spoke out at the hearing against the EPA’s risk assessments, saying that the agency often rushes its studies and comes to conclusions that can’t be replicated.

Others criticized the EPA for not revealing which studies it used for its assessment of formaldehyde.

Democrats, meanwhile, pointed out that the EPA has made improvements to the IRIS program. One professor also pointed out that it has been a critical tool for first responders and local officials.

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