EPA Strengthens Key Scientific Database to Protect Public Health

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced plans to improve its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program as part of an ongoing effort initiated in 2009 to strengthen the program. IRIS is a publicly available online database that provides high quality science-based human health assessments used to inform the agency’s decisions on protecting public health and the environment.

“Decision makers rely on the IRIS program for accessible, science-based health assessments of environmental contaminants,” said Paul Anastas, assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Research and Development. “Further strengthening the IRIS program is part of EPA’s commitment to continuous improvement and ensuring we use the best possible science to protect human health and the environment.”

The improvements will make IRIS even stronger. All new IRIS assessment documents will be shorter, clearer and more visual, concise and transparent. IRIS users can expect to see a reduced volume of text and increased clarity and transparency of data, methods, and decision criteria. Documents will be rigorously edited to eliminate inconsistencies and address redundancies and will include more graphical and tabular representations of data. Related discussions will also be consolidated into concise narrative descriptions.

To make the scientific rationale behind the assessments and toxicity values as transparent as possible, EPA will evaluate and describe the strengths and weaknesses of critical studies in a more uniform way. EPA will also indicate which criteria were most influential in evaluating the weight of the scientific evidence supporting its choice of toxicity values.

The latest actions are in direct response to recommendations received on April 8, 2011, from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

EPA is working closely with the agency’s Science Advisory Board on how to bring to bear its expertise on an ongoing basis to focus on the quality, transparency and scientific rigor of IRIS assessments and guide EPA’s response to the NAS recommendations.

EPA will also create a new peer consultation step early in the development of major IRIS assessments to enhance the input of the scientific community as assessments are designed.

In 2009, EPA implemented an improved IRIS process to ensure scientific quality, integrity, transparency, and the timeliness of EPA’s efforts to manage chemical risks.

The process now includes a streamlined review schedule, ensuring that the majority of assessments will be finalized within two years of their start date, opportunities for input from EPA scientists, federal agency reviewers, and the public, and greater transparency by making the scientific studies used to develop assessments available through the Health and Environmental Research Online database.

The IRIS database includes more than 540 chemical substances, containing crucial information about how they impact human health. Combined with exposure information, governments and private entities use IRIS to help characterize the public health risks of chemical substances, thereby supporting risk management decisions designed to protect public health.

Download Center

  • Monitoring and Reporting on Air Emissions for Regulators and the Real World

    When it comes to managing compliance and regulatory issues surrounding air emissions, there are no easy jobs. With interviews from practitioners from American Electric Power, Red Cedar Gathering, Trinity Consultants, and Cority, this eBook provides practical advice to advance your air emissions monitoring and reporting programs.

  • What Every EHS Professional Should Know About ESG

    Join experts from Arcadis and Cority on April 27th to learn the most common ESG reporting frameworks and how technology can help you improve reporting efficiency, identify areas for improvement, and create defensible audit trails.

  • Green Quadrant EHS Software 2021

    Read the new report by independent analyst firm, Verdantix, to get an unbiased comparison of the 22 most prominent EHS software vendors in the industry.

  • RFP Template for Waste Management Software

    Learn the essential questions to ask when evaluating waste management software solutions with this free, ready-to-use RFP template

  • 5 Keys to Best-in-Class Chemical Management

    Running a safe chemical program is challenging and complex: from knowing what's on-site to proper handling and disposal - all while navigating regulatory changes. Learn the best ways to mitigate chemical risk, get the most value out of your data, and gain buy-in for a chemical management solution.

Featured Webinar