About Thomas Neltner

Tom Neltner

Senior Director, Safer Chemicals


Areas of expertise:

Food additives, lead, cadmium, formaldehyde, and hazardous materials management


Tom Neltner is EDF’s Senior Director, Safer Chemicals. He leads EDF’s Safer Chemicals initiative, which focuses on removing or minimizing hazardous chemicals from products and the marketplace through cross-cutting policy initiatives.

His primary focus is on food additive safety, where he promotes corporate partnerships and advances federal regulatory efforts to improve public health and the environment, and on lead where he works to advance legislative, regulatory and collaborative efforts to reduce lead exposure.


Tom Neltner is a chemical engineer and attorney with experience in chemical safety issues in the workplace, the environment, the home, consumer products or food. Tom has worked on lead poisoning prevention at the federal, state and local levels for more than 20 years.

More recently, he played a leading role in an EPA-convened, multi-stakeholder workgroup that made recommendations to the agency to upgrade its lead in drinking water regulations. He has worked in chemical, food additive, pesticide, and pharmaceutical manufacturing as well as state government and public interest advocacy with stints as an adjunct professor at Indiana University through many of those years.

He is a Healthy Homes Specialist, Certified Hazardous Materials Manager and elected Fellow of the National Institute for Hazardous Materials Managers. He is admitted to practice law in Indiana, Washington DC, and the federal courts of appeal for the 9th and District of Columbia circuits.


  • Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering, University of Cincinnati, cum laude
  • Doctor of Jurisprudence, Indiana University, cum laude


  • Leonard and Robinson, Managing Hazardous Materials: A Definitive Text, (Author of Chapter 8 on Legal Liabilities), Institute of Hazardous Materials Management, 2015.
  • Maffini, M.V. and Neltner, T.G., Brain Drain: The Cost of Neglected Responsibilities in Evaluating Cumulative Effects of Environmental Chemicals, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 10.1136/jech-2014-203980, 2014.
  • Natural Resources Defense Council, Generally Recognized as Secret: Chemicals Added to Food in the United States, 2014.
  • The Pew Charitable Trusts, Fixing the Oversight of Chemicals Added to Our Food – Findings and Recommendations of Pew’s Assessment of the U.S. Food Additives Program, 2013.
  • Neltner, T. G, Alger, H.M., Leonard, J.E., and Maffini, M.V., Data Gaps in Toxicity Testing of Chemicals Allowed in Food in the United States, Reproductive Toxicology, 42: 85– 94, 2013.
  • Neltner, T.G., Alger, H. M., O’Reilly, J.T., Krimsky, S. , Bero, L.A., and Maffini, M. V., Conflicts of Interest in Approvals of Additives to Food Determined to be Generally Recognized as Safe: Out of Balance, JAMA Intern Med., 173(22):2032-2036, 2013.
  • Maffini, M. V., Alger, H. M., Olson, E. D., and Neltner, T. G., Looking Back to Look Forward: A Review of FDA’s Food Additives Safety Assessment and Recommendations for Modernizing its Program, Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 12: 439–453,
  • Alger, H. M., Maffini, M. V., Kulkarni, N. R., Bongard, E. D. and Neltner, T., Perspectives on How FDA Assesses Exposure to Food Additives When Evaluating Their Safety: Workshop Proceedings, Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 12: 90–119, 2013.
  • Neltner, T. G., Kulkarni, N. R., Alger, H. M., Maffini, M. V., Bongard, E. D., Fortin, N. D., and Olson, E. D., Navigating the U.S. Food Additive Regulatory Program, Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 10: 342–368, 2011.
  • Maffini, M. V., Alger, H. M., Bongard, E. D., and Neltner, T. G., Enhancing FDA’s Evaluation of Science to Ensure Chemicals Added to Human Food Are Safe: Workshop Proceedings, Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety,10: 321–341, 2011.
  • Neltner T.G., National Healthy Homes Training Center and Network: Building Capacity for Healthy Homes, J Public Health Management Practice, Sep-Oct;16(5 Suppl):S75-8, 2010.
  • Neltner T.G., Lead Dust as Solid Waste: A New Legal Strategy for Achieving Lead Safety, Clearinghouse Review Journal of Poverty Law and Policy, p. 665, 2006.
  • Neltner T.G., Civil Rights Action on Combined Sewer Overflows in Indianapolis, Clearinghouse Review Journal of Poverty Law and Policy, p. 429, 2005.
  • Whitford, The Complete Book of Pesticide Management: Science, Regulation, Stewardship, and Communication, (Co-author on Chapters 17 & 18), John Wiley & Sons, 2002.