Environmental Protection

EPA's Research Arm Opens House on Assessments

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development has revised its Integrated Risk Information System process to include an expanded process for recommending a substance be assessed; earlier involvement of other agencies and the public; "listening sessions"; and an even more rigorous scientific peer review of chemical assessments.

This department's database is used the world over to quickly see the research on chemicals found in the environment and their potential to cause health effects in people, The agency expects these changes will increase transparency and efficiency.

The revisions build upon recent steps to improve Web site navigation and organization. Those enhancements provide easier-to-understand background information, including the history of the system and the review process, and create quick, one-step access to the major parts of the database (the quickviews, the summaries, the toxicological reviews, and the tracking database). EPA has also, for the first time, initiated a "data call in" for information to support its literature review of a chemical and is seeking public comment on this review.

The system provides human health risk information describing the potential adverse health effects that may result from exposure to more than 540 environmental contaminants. It includes descriptions of hazard identification and dose-response information, quantitative risk estimates for chronic non-cancer and cancer effects, and access to searchable scientific documentation. To access this material, visit http://www.epa.gov/iris.

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