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Tiered Chemical Testing: A Value of Information Approach

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In December 2000 the EPA initiated the Voluntary Children's Chemical Evaluation Program (VCCEP) by asking manufacturers to voluntarily sponsor toxicological testing in a tiered process for 23 chemicals selected for the pilot phase. The tiered nature of the VCCEP pilot program creates the need for clearly defined criteria for determining when information is sufficient to assess the potential risks to children. This raises questions about how to determine the “adequacy” of the existing information and assess the need to undertake efforts to reduce uncertainty (through further testing). This article applies a value of information analysis approach to determine adequacy by modeling how toxicological and exposure data collected through the VCCEP may be used to inform risk management decisions. The analysis demonstrates the importance of information about the exposure level and control costs in making decisions regarding further toxicological testing. This article accounts for the cost of delaying control action and identifies the optimal testing strategy for a constrained decisionmaker who, absent applicable human data, cannot regulate without bioassay data on a specific chemical. It also quantifies the differences in optimal testing strategy for three decision criteria: maximizing societal net benefits, ensuring maximum exposure control while net benefits are positive (i.e., benefits outweigh costs), and controlling to the maximum extent technologically feasible while the lifetime risk of cancer exceeds a specific level of risk. Finally, this article shows the large differences that exist in net benefits between the three criteria for the range of exposure levels where the optimal actions differ.
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Keywords: Probabilistic risk analysis; regulatory decision making; risk management; toxicological testing; value of information

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Office of Management and Budget, Washington, DC. 2: Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Health Policy and Management, Boston, MA.

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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