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Science and Decisions: Advancing Risk Assessment

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At the request of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Research Council (NRC) recently completed a major report, Science and Decisions: Advancing Risk Assessment, that is intended to strengthen the scientific basis, credibility, and effectiveness of risk assessment practices and subsequent risk management decisions. The report describes the challenges faced by risk assessment and the need to consider improvements in both the technical analyses of risk assessments (i.e., the development and use of scientific information to improve risk characterization) and the utility of risk assessments (i.e., making assessments more relevant and useful for risk management decisions). The report tackles a number of topics relating to improvements in the process, including the design and framing of risk assessments, uncertainty and variability characterization, selection and use of defaults, unification of cancer and noncancer dose-response assessment, cumulative risk assessment, and the need to increase EPA's capacity to address these improvements. This article describes and summarizes the NRC report, with an eye toward its implications for risk assessment practices at EPA.

Keywords: Defaults; dose-response assessment; risk assessment; risk management; toxicity; uncertainty; variability

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: National Research Council, Washington, DC, USA. 2: ENVIRON International Corporation, Arlington, VA, USA. 3: Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA. 4: California Environmental Protection Agency, Oakland, CA, USA. 5: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Publication date: July 1, 2010


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