WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced changes to its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program to improve the scientific foundation of assessments, increase transparency in the program and the process, and allow the agency to produce more IRIS assessments each year. IRIS is a human health assessment program that evaluates information on health effects that may result from exposure to environmental contaminants.
Consistent with recommendations from the National Research Council, EPA will now begin releasing preliminary materials and hold a public meeting early in the assessment development process to explain the criteria for selecting studies and to ensure that critical research was not omitted.
EPA is also using a new document structure for IRIS assessments, which it says is clearer, more concise and more systematic. To improve transparency, the agency is enhancing the IRIS website by providing more detailed information regarding assessment schedules, stakeholder meetings and updates on IRIS progress.
Additionally, the agency is implementing “stopping rules” for IRIS that will provide a cut-off point for accepting new data for individual IRIS assessments and raising scientific issues related to the assessment. With these changes, EPA’s goal is to increase the number of assessments being completed each year and provide more accurate assessment development timelines to the public.