Charles M. Auer

Born: June 18, 1952 | Baltimore, MD, US

Charles M. Auer joined the EPA’s Office of Toxic Substances, before the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was passed, as an entry level chemist doing screening-level risk assessments. He was the first chair of the Structure Activity Team, which was responsible for developing structure activity relationship (SAR) analysis as a method for evaluating new chemicals. While it was clear to Auer that there was never any question that SAR satisfied the legal requirements of TSCA’s Section 4 premanufacture review, he witnessed several studies to verify the validity of SAR results. As a division director, Auer found it difficult to prioritize existing chemicals, primarily because Inventory Update Rules were not issued to collect changing hazard and exposure information. Auer believes that the Office has been very innovating, adjusting to emerging science on toxicity and applying TSCA while staying within its legal limits, and that the key to an effective toxics program is to be as dynamic as the chemical industry. 

The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.

Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0642
No. of pages: 28
Minutes: 101

Interview Sessions

Jody A. Roberts and Kavita D. Hardy
23 April 2010
Washington, DC

Abstract of Interview

Charles M. Auer joined the EPA’s Office of Toxic Substances, before the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was passed, as an entry level chemist doing screening-level risk assessments. He was the first chair of the Structure Activity Team, which was responsible for developing structure activity relationship (SAR) analysis as a method for evaluating new chemicals. While it was clear to Auer that there was never any question that SAR satisfied the legal requirements of TSCA’s Section 4 premanufacture review, he witnessed several studies to verify the validity of SAR results, including a joint effort between the EPA and European Union in the early 1990s. By this time Auer was Director of the Existing Chemical Assessment Division, where SARs were not as heavily relied upon. As a division director, Auer found it difficult to prioritize existing chemicals, primarily because Inventory Update Rules were not issued to collect changing hazard and exposure information; the EPA attempted other, more voluntary methods to collect data, to varying degrees of success. Auer believes that the Office has been very innovating, adjusting to emerging science on toxicity and applying TSCA while staying within its legal limits, and that the key to an effective toxics program is to be as dynamic as the chemical industry.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1974 University of Maryland, College Park BS Biochemistry

Professional Experience

US Environmental Protection Agency

1976 to 1985
Staff Chemist, Office of Toxic Substances
1985 to 1988
Section Chief, Metabolism and Structure Activity Section, Office of Toxic Substances
1985 to 1988
Branch Chief, New Chemicals Assessment Branch, Office of Toxic Substances
1988 to 1989
Deputy Director, Health and Environmental Review Division, Office of Toxic Substances
1989 to 1992
Director, Existing Chemical Assessment Division, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics
1992 to 2002
Director, Chemical Control Division, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics

Charles Auer and Associates

2009 to 2017
President

Bergeson & Campbell P.C.

2009 to 2011
Affiliate

Honors

Year(s) Award
1979

Bronze Medal for Commendable Service, US Environmental Protection Agency

1981

Bronze Medal for Commendable Service, US Environmental Protection Agency

1983

Bronze Medal for Commendable Service, US Environmental Protection Agency

1985

Dr. Joseph Seifter Memorial Award in Toxicology, US Environmental Protection Agency

1985

Bronze Medal for Commendable Service, US Environmental Protection Agency

1987

Bronze Medal for Commendable Service, US Environmental Protection Agency

1989

Dr. Joseph Seifter Memorial Award in Regulatory Science, US Environmental Protection Agency

1989

Bronze Medal for Commendable Service, US Environmental Protection Agency

1989

Lee M. Thomas Excellence in Management Award, US Environmental Protection Agency

1991

Bronze Medal for Commendable Service, US Environmental Protection Agency

1994

Bronze Medal for Commendable Service, US Environmental Protection Agency

2008

Award for Sustained Outstanding Contributions to International Environmental Protection, US Environmental Protection Agency

2008

Presidential Rank Award, Meritorious Executive, Senior Executive Agency

2008

Gold Medal, Distinguished Career Service Award, US Environmental Protection Agency

Table of Contents

Early Career
1

Bachelor's degree in biochemistry. Joining the Office of Toxic Substances. Risk Assessments. Waterside Mall and Sick Building Syndrome. 

Structure Activity Relationship (SAR) Analsyis
4

Structure Activity Team and Joseph Seifter. Development of SARs. EU/US validation study. Europe's base data set requirements. Application of structure activity to existing chemicals. 

Implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act
12

Prioritization of existing chemicals. Limited Section 4 authority. HPV Challenge. Enforceable consent agreements. Emerging science. Interagency cooperation. Confidential business information. 

Recent Challenges and Developments
18

Increasing stakeholder interest. PFOA Stewardship Program. Use of Significant New Use Rules. Corrosion Proof Fittings. Nanotechnology. Industry dynamism. Inventory Update Rules. Variety of Office responsibilities. International Cooperation and standards. 

Index
27

About the Interviewer

Jody A. Roberts

Jody A. Roberts is the Director of the Institute for Research at the Science History Institute. He received his PhD and MS in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech and holds a BS in chemistry from Saint Vincent College. His research focuses on the intersections of regulation, innovation, environmental issues, and emerging technologies within the chemical sciences.

Kavita D. Hardy

Kavita D. Hardy was a research assistant in the Environmental History and Policy Program at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. She received a BA in chemistry and in economics from Swarthmore College.