IRIS

EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System Assessment of Ammonia

By Salina Tewolde and Lou D’Amico, Ph.D.

The first thing that probably comes to your mind when I say “ammonia” is that household product you use to clean just about anything in your house. Besides being used as an all-purpose cleaner, ammonia also occurs naturally in air, soil, and water. As you’re reading this, you’re producing ammonia too – it’s used in nucleic acid and protein synthesis, and helps your body maintain its acid-base balance – all part of normal biological processes.

The largest and most significant use of ammonia is in agricultural fertilizers, which represents about 80% of commercially produced ammonia. Ammonia is also used in food products as an antimicrobial agent, in water purification, and in refrigeration systems. It’s also an important chemical intermediate in the production of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, and is used to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from combustion sources like some industrial boilers and diesel engines. Some major sources of ammonia gas come from leaks and spills during the production, storage, or processing stages of the chemical. Other sources include decaying manure from livestock, application of fertilizers in agricultural, and sewage or wastewater emissions in the environment. EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory reports that over 150 million pounds of ammonia was released from reporting facilities in 2014.

There are a number of ways that humans can be exposed to ammonia. The most common route of exposure is through breathing air that contains ammonia. Humans can be exposed to ammonia gas from household cleaning products or through direct skin contact via products that contain the chemical. Livestock and poultry farmers that work in animal feeding operations or confinement areas can be exposed to ammonia released from animal waste, and farmers can be exposed when applying ammonia-containing fertilizers to fields.

IRIS spelled out with flowers in the backgroundTo characterize the potential health effects that humans can acquire from inhaling high concentrations of ammonia, EPA recently released an Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) assessment that looks at the noncancer health hazards that may result from inhalation of ammonia.

EPA’s assessment evaluates chronic inhalation exposure to ammonia, observed at levels that exceed naturally-occurring ammonia concentrations. Human and animal studies showed that inhalation exposure had an effect on the respiratory tract in humans, which is the site of direct contact when ammonia is inhaled. This hazard determination was based on findings from multiple epidemiology studies in human populations exposed to ammonia in different settings (workers in industrial, cleaning and agricultural settings, volunteers exposed for up to 6 hours under controlled conditions, as well as case reports) and animals (short-term and subchronic studies in several species and across different exposure patterns). Short-term inhalation exposure to high levels of ammonia in humans can cause irritation and serious burns in the mouth, lungs, and eyes. Chronic exposure to airborne ammonia may increase the risk of respiratory irritation, cough, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and decreased lung function.

EPA’s IRIS assessment includes an estimate of the amount of ammonia that one can breathe every day for a lifetime that is likely to be without harmful health effects. This is known as an inhalation reference concentration, or RfC. The RfC was derived from an occupational study by Holness et al. (1989) that looked at the relationship between decreased lung function and long-term exposure to ammonia from workers at a soda ash plant. Ammonia was last evaluated by the IRIS Program in 1991, and as a result of the reevaluation posted this week, the RfC is five-fold higher (less stringent) than what was previously on the IRIS database. You can learn as much as you care to about ammonia inhalation toxicity through either reading the Toxicological Review on the IRIS Ammonia webpage, or getting the highlights through the accompanying IRIS Summary.

IRIS assessments go through rigorous review prior to finalization. This ammonia assessment was reviewed by EPA’s program offices and regions and other federal agencies, as well as external peer review by the Science Advisory Board Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee. The public also had opportunity to comment. All of this information is available on the IRIS chemical-specific page for ammonia, and demonstrates the IRIS Program’s commitment to transparency while providing high quality, publicly available information on the toxicity of chemicals to which the public might be exposed.

Reference:  Holness, DL; Purdham, JT; Nethercott, JR. (1989). Acute and chronic respiratory effects of occupational exposure to ammonia. AIHA J 50: 646-650.

About the Authors: Salina Tewolde is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. Lou D’Amico is the Acting Communications Director for the National Center for Environmental Assessment, which houses the IRIS Program.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Navigating a Newly Posted IRIS Assessment

By Ashley Mayrianne Jones and Lou D’Amico, Ph.D.

Last week, EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program released the final assessment of trimethylbenzenes (TMBs). IRIS assessments provide health effects information and toxicity values for cancer and non-cancer health outcomes by using the best available scientific data.  Government and others combine IRIS toxicity values with exposure information to help characterize public health risks of chemical substances and use these assessments to support decisions designed to protect human health.

But you don’t need to wait until an assessment is finalized to learn more about the science that informs the Agency’s risk assessment and risk management decisions.

EPA is committed to transparency and providing information about its research and assessments. IRIS is no exception. Recently, EPA updated their web presence to help the general public find information faster and easier. As part of this update, EPA made significant changes to the IRIS website.

screenshot of the iris website

The online IRIS database contains crucial information from assessments on chemical substances that can be used to support hazard identification and dose-response assessment – two of the four steps in the human health risk assessment process.

So where to begin?  Well, the first place would be the IRIS Program home page at https://www.epa.gov/iris. There, you’ll find links to general program materials (such as the IRIS multi-year agenda), a calendar of public meetings and workshops, and an  “About IRIS” page, which explains the IRIS process and program history. You can also sign up for the IRIS listserv using the form at the top of the home page. Even more ways to stay up-to-date on IRIS activities are described under “Staying Connected.”

The quickest option to search for a chemical is to enter the chemical name or CASRN (the CAS registry number – a unique identifier for chemical substances) in the “Search IRIS” box on the middle right of the home page. The “Assessments” link under the search bar on the home page allows for more advanced search options.  Using the link, you can browse chemicals alphabetically, by organ or system, and by current stage in the IRIS process. The quick check provides a convenient way of seeing what step of the IRIS process an ongoing chemical assessment is in.  Each chemical in the IRIS database has a chemical-specific webpage, with links to the toxicological reviews (if available), an IRIS summary of the findings, and key information on toxicity values and the organ systems that may be affected by exposure to a chemical.  Toxicological reviews can be lengthy documents though, and the IRIS summary provides a shorter description of the findings for a given chemical.

Anyone can browse the IRIS database or search for a specific chemical assessment, just like the newly added assessment for trimethylbenzenes (TMBs). TMB’s are a group of volatile hydrocarbons produced during petroleum refining and may be inhaled by exposure to vehicle emissions.  The IRIS assessment for TMBs actually contains information on three isomers: 1,2,3-TMB, 1,2,4-TMB, and 1,3,5-TMB, which all have specific chemical pages on the IRIS website.

scrren shot of the specific page within the IRIS website

Whether you’re interested in TMBs or any other chemical, a wealth of information is available on each chemical’s webpage.  The critical systems affected by a chemical are identified, along with toxicity values (like the reference dose and reference concentration for non-cancer effects) and are provided right on the main page.  For example, TMBs are associated with nervous, respiratory, and hematological system effects.  The carcinogenicity of a chemical is also described through a weight-of-evidence characterization, as well as quantitatively, if appropriate.  Each IRIS assessment provides authoritative, peer-reviewed information on a chemical’s toxicity.

A tremendous amount of work goes into completing the 7-step process to finalize a draft IRIS assessment. EPA releases a number of documents along the way, including past drafts of assessments, comments from interagency reviewers, and preliminary materials used early in assessment development.  Your gateway to all this information is through the “History” tab right on the main page for each chemical entry on the database.

IRIS assessments aren’t regulations, but they provide a critical part of the scientific information for decision-making to protect public health across EPA.  They’re also important resources for state environmental and public health agencies, and are widely used by the scientific community in the U.S and the world.

If you have any questions regarding the IRIS Program or the website, you can always contact us at the IRIS hotline at 202-566-1676 or hotline.iris@epa.gov.

About the Authors: Ashley Mayrianne Jones is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.  Lou D’Amico is the Acting Communications Director for the National Center for Environmental Assessment, which houses the IRIS Program.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Moving Away From “High Risk”

By Lou D’Amico, Ph.D. and Samantha Jones, Ph.D.

 

IRIS graphic identifierYesterday the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released their biennial High Risk Report, which lists government functions and operations identified as needing attention by Congress and the Executive Branch. EPA’s IRIS Program is on the list along with the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) under the broader area, Transforming EPA’s Processes for Assessing and Controlling Toxic Chemicals. For the first time, GAO has provided ratings in five criteria to help programs gauge their progress in resolving the high risk designation.

GAO found that, specific to the IRIS Program, EPA has:

  • Met, a demonstrated commitment to, and top leadership support for, addressing problems;
  • Partially met, the development of a corrective action plan;
  • Partially met, instituting a program to monitor corrective measures;
  • Not met, demonstrating progress in implementing corrective measures; and
  • Not met, demonstrating the capacity to address problems.

We think this report shows improvement while acknowledging that there is more to do. The recommendations received from GAO, the National Research Council (NRC), and our Scientific Advisory Board Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee (SAB CAAC) provide important ongoing feedback and a framework through which EPA will ensure, as part of a multiyear process, that the IRIS Program produces timely, transparent, and high-quality scientific assessments.

As GAO noted, EPA’s leadership has reaffirmed the importance of the IRIS Program. In the coming weeks and months, you’ll hear more about IRIS activities that address issues raised by the GAO. An important one will be the IRIS multi-year plan, which reflects a reprioritization of the chemicals on the IRIS agenda to best meet Agency needs. Also, soon-to-be announced workshops will allow scientists in the IRIS Program to benefit from in-depth scientific discussions that directly inform ongoing work in our assessments.

The IRIS Program has taken a number of steps to strengthen, streamline, and clarify the science presented in our assessments. To increase capacity in an ever-changing environment, the IRIS Program has restructured the process for developing assessments, including the use of workgroups that bring together individuals with common expertise by scientific discipline (e.g., neurotoxicity), to evaluate a specific hazard. We’ve also recently implemented an executive review committee to ensure that scientific decisions are discussed by a greater number of senior scientists and managers within EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment, and to maintain quality and consistency across assessments.

Demonstrating progress is the criterion that presents a significant challenge to IRIS. The number of posted final assessments is only one measure of progress. In recent years, the same staff and managers that work on assessments have also been implementing recommendations from the GAO and NRC. One of those recommendations, adopting systematic review methodologies, is an ongoing effort. In the coming months, the public will see new sections of the IRIS Handbook, including a collection of the procedures and protocols we’ll use to implement systematic review in the IRIS Program. It is also important to advance chemicals at every stage of the IRIS process. Since 2013, IRIS has held bimonthly public science meetings on 12 chemicals under assessment. Finally, it’s important to consider the impact of these assessments. How should the IRIS Program balance the completion of complex assessments with widespread interest (which require greater resources and time) with those that may present fewer challenges and have comparatively less interest, but still have important public health impacts? The recently finalized IRIS assessment of Libby Amphibole Asbestos is only one assessment, but the impact to other federal and state agencies, and local communities is significant. Regardless of the metrics, the IRIS Program is committed to increasing productivity to meet the needs of the Agency and the public.

The independent reviews provided by the GAO and SAB CAAC, as well as the recent NRC review of the IRIS process, have validated a number of the steps taken by the IRIS Program. We will continue to evolve and we hope that stakeholders will continue to share their opinions with us – either in the comments sections of blog posts, on the IRIS general comments docket, or at some of our public meetings and workshops. We want to hear from you!

About the Authors: Lou D’Amico is the Acting Communications Director for NCEA. Samantha Jones is the Associate Director for Science in the IRIS Program.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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This Week in EPA Science – Halloween Edition

By Kacey Fitzpatrick

What do most movies about zombies, aliens, robots, and monsters have in common with Research Recap? It All Starts with Science! Research recap graphic identifier, a microscope with the words "research recap" around it in a circle

Of course, you can’t always believe what you see in the movies. Here’s some real research that’s been highlighted by EPA this week (and won’t give you nightmares). Happy Halloween!

  • Prescriptions for Cleaner Waterways Left with expired, unwanted prescriptions, many people will pour them down the sink or flush them away. In a recently published study, EPA scientist Christian Daughton presents ways to reduce the active ingredients of pharmaceuticals from getting into our waterways. Read more.
  • Strengthening IRIS: Cultivating Broad Scientific Input EPA has embraced recommendations by the National Research Council to broaden the input they receive while conducting health assessments in the Agency’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). “Bringing more scientific minds to the table will only strengthen our assessments by encouraging a more robust discussion,” writes IRIS scientist Louis D’Amico, Ph.D. Read more.
  • Broadcom MASTERS EPA’s Drs. Denice Shaw and Tina Bahadori, along with Melissa Anley-Mills, participated in a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) event with the Broadcom MASTERS finalists. Broadcom MASTERS is a national STEM competition for U.S. 6th, 7th, and 8th graders that aims to inspire and encourage future scientists, engineers, and innovators. Read more.

If you have any comments or questions about what I share or about the week’s events, please submit them below in the comments section!

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Strengthening IRIS: Cultivating Broad Scientific Input

By Louis D’Amico, Ph.D.

IRIS graphic identifierAs a scientist in EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program, I am routinely faced with the task of evaluating evidence to determine if a chemical may cause a toxic effect. Developing chemical health assessments involves evaluating complex, sometimes controversial scientific issues that may lead to differing opinions about the interpretation of the data. That’s why the IRIS Program has always relied on engagement with the larger scientific community, through public comment and peer review, to support the development of our assessments.

Last year, EPA announced several enhancements to improve the productivity and quality of IRIS assessments, including holding regular bimonthly public science meetings. This gives the scientists who develop IRIS assessments the opportunity to engage with the public and the scientific community on topics throughout the development of an assessment. However, we want to ensure that we are hearing scientific perspectives from a diversity of experts in open, public, and transparent ways during assessment development. As the National Research Council (NRC) 2014 report on the IRIS Process indicated, some stakeholders may not have the staff, organizational, or other resources to provide comments or detailed scientific input. The NRC report recommended that EPA continue with additional efforts to ensure that the full breadth of perspectives are made available to the Agency when discussing the IRIS process and specific IRIS assessments.

IRIS meeting in a large conference room

EPA holds regular public IRIS meetings.

To broaden the input the IRIS Program receives at our bimonthly meetings, EPA has asked the National Research Council to identify additional scientific experts to join in our discussions. The public will continue to have the same opportunity to participate as discussants that they had before. If you want to participate as a discussant, you simply need to indicate that when registering for the meeting. Experts identified by the National Research Council, reviewed for conflict of interest and bias, will participate as discussants in their own capacity to contribute intellectual leadership to discussions on critical scientific issues. The final determination of who serves as an expert participant is made independently by the National Research Council.

Bringing more scientific minds to the table will only strengthen our assessments by encouraging a more robust discussion. Ultimately it’s not the number of participants expressing an opinion, but the scientific validity of their positions. Hearing multiple perspectives on how to interpret science issues will help my colleagues and I better address and incorporate those issues and perspectives into our assessments prior to expert peer review. Moving forward, I am looking forward to future discussions on the science at our bimonthly meetings and encourage you to join the continuing discussion on the evolution of the IRIS Program.

About the Author: Louis D’Amico, P.h.D. is the Acting Communications Director for the National Center for Environmental Assessment. He joined EPA five years ago and has a doctorate in Biology.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Improving IRIS: Please Join the Conversation

By Kacee Deener

IRIS graphic identifier

Over the past few years, EPA has embraced a major new effort to enhance its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program to improve the scientific foundation of assessments, increase transparency, and improve productivity. IRIS is a human health assessment program that evaluates information on health effects that may result from exposure to environmental contaminants. Information from IRIS is used by EPA and others to support decisions to protect human health.

We think we’ve made terrific progress so far, and we were thrilled that the National Academies’ National Research Council (NRC) agrees. They spent the past two years reviewing IRIS, and in May 2014, they issued a report highlighting our progress and offering recommendations on keeping the progress moving forward (Assistant Administrator Lek Kadeli recently wrote about this on EPA Connect, the Agency’s leadership blog).

In their report, the NRC commended EPA for its substantive new approaches, continuing commitment to improving the process, and successes to date. They noted that the IRIS Program has moved forward steadily in planning for and implementing changes in each element of the assessment process. They also provided several recommendations which they said should be seen as building on the progress we’ve already made.

We are happy to announce that we are taking additional steps to improve the IRIS Program. In October, we will hold a public workshop to discuss specific recommendations from the NRC’s report, which fall under the three broad topics below. We invite you to provide early input by commenting on this blog post, which is the first in a new IRIS blog series geared toward generating online scientific discussion about issues relevant to the IRIS Program. We plan to use blog posts like this more in the future to get your input.

  • Topic 1 – Refining systematic review methodology, including methods to evaluate risk of bias. The NRC stated that EPA should continue to document and standardize its process for evaluating evidence and recommended EPA develop tools for assessing risk of bias in human, animal, and mechanistic studies that are used as primary data sources. The NRC noted the limitations of available approaches for use with observational (nonrandomized) studies, and advocated exploration of differences in applying methods for evaluating epidemiological studies to controlled experimental in vivo and in vitro studies. They noted that these approaches will depend on the complexity and extent of data on a chemical and the resources available to EPA, and that additional methodological work might be needed to develop empirically-supported evaluation criteria for animal or mechanistic studies.
  • Topic 2 – Advancing methodology to systematically evaluate and integrate evidence streams. The NRC stated that EPA should continue to improve its evidence-integration process incrementally, and to enhance its transparency. The committee provided several alternatives for organizing evidence of hazard potential and recommended that the IRIS Program should either continue with the guided-expert-judgment process for evaluating evidence, but make its application more transparent, or adopt a structured approach with rating recommendations. The committee also encouraged the IRIS Program to simultaneously expand its ability to perform quantitative modeling, specifically using Bayesian methods, to inform hazard identification.
  • Topic 3 – Combining quantitative results from multiple studies, presenting appropriate quantitative toxicity information, and advancing analyses and communication of uncertainty. The committee encouraged the IRIS Program to continue its shift towards the use of multiple studies for dose-response assessment, but with increased attention to judging the relative merits of mechanistic, animal and epidemiologic studies, with an ultimate goal of developing formal methods for combining studies and deriving toxicity values in a transparent and replicable manner. The NRC stated that it is critical to consider systematic approaches to synthesizing and integrating the derivation of a range of toxicity values in light of variability and uncertainty. Integral to this latter goal is the NRC recommendation to develop methods to systematically conduct uncertainty analyses and to appropriately communicate uncertainty to the users of IRIS assessments.

We’re interested in hearing your thoughts about the NRC recommendations above. For example, do you have ideas about how we should move forward to address the recommendations in these topic areas? Do you have scientific suggestions for the IRIS Program to consider related to these topics? Do you have suggestions for who we should ask to speak at the workshop? Please add your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions in the comments below and join the conversation!

About the Author: Kacee Deener is the Communications Director in EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment.  She joined EPA 13 years ago and has a Masters degree in Public Health.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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A Message to IRIS Program Stakeholders: We Want to Hear From You!

By Kacee Deener

IRIS graphic identifierIn July 2013, EPA announced enhancements to our Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program to improve the scientific foundation of assessments, increase transparency, and improve productivity. Stakeholder engagement is an essential part of the enhancements, and since announcing them, we have held bimonthly public meetings to discuss scientific issues related to preliminary assessment materials and draft IRIS assessments. We announce these meetings well in advance on the IRIS website, and we publicly release any relevant materials about two months before the meeting is held. We also identify specific scientific issues related to the chemicals we are assessing.

Did you know that anyone can participate in these meetings? You can register to participate as a discussant on a specific scientific issue identified by EPA, or you can identify one of your own. Likewise, you can participate in the meetings more generally (i.e., not sign up for a specific scientific topic, but participate during discussion and open forum sessions). We don’t put together an invited panel for these meetings, and the agenda reflects those individuals who requested to participate in the scientific discussions.

IRIS meeting in a large conference room

EPA holds a public IRIS meeting.

We realize that you can never do too much where communication is concerned, so we use a variety of ways to publicize the meetings. They are announced on the IRIS website and through the IRIS Listserv and Human Health Risk Assessment research program bulletins, which reach more than 7,000 people combined. If you’re not on these lists, please sign up! We also use various social media platforms, including Twitter (follow IRIS and other EPA research on Twitter @EPAresearch).

We know that getting different perspectives on scientific issues is important, and we are exploring additional ways to reach out to scientists and other individuals who might be interested in participating in our meetings and contributing to the IRIS process.

We recognize that not all of our stakeholders have the resources to travel to a meeting. Because of that, for the past year and a half, every IRIS public meeting has also been available by webinar. We’ve also made some recent changes so that webinar participants can more fully engage in our meetings, including using telephone connections that allow webinar participants to actively participate in discussions.

EPA’s IRIS Program works on behalf of the American people, and anyone is welcome to add their voice to the conversation. We welcome your ideas about how to expand public access to and engagement in IRIS activities. We also welcome your input about how to obtain additional perspectives on the complex scientific issues that are discussed at IRIS bimonthly public science meetings. Join the conversation today by commenting on this blog post or sending us your ideas through the IRIS general comments docket.

As always, we want to hear from you!

About the Author: Kacee Deener is the Communications Director in EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment.  She joined EPA 13 years ago and has a Masters degree in Public Health.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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A Job Worth Doing is Worth Doing Together

By Janice Lee 

Arsenic element from periodic tableMost everyone recognizes the value of teamwork. We learned this from a young age in school, and most people can point to a professional experience where a project has improved because of group input. For me, a terrific example is the inorganic arsenic health assessment that EPA is currently developing through our Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS)—a program that provides information on the health effects that may result from exposure to environmental contaminants.

Arsenic is well known—it’s been used since ancient times for a variety of purposes, it had a major role in the Hollywood movie Arsenic and Old Lace, and many people are familiar with health issues that occur in areas where naturally-occurring arsenic shows up in high levels in drinking water.

Throughout 2013, our team met with a lot of people who will use our inorganic arsenic assessment once it’s developed. We learned a lot from those conversations, including several things that will ultimately improve our assessment and make it more useful to the people who make decisions to protect public health. For example, we had initially planned to focus our assessment on oral exposures—the kind you might get from drinking water or eating food contaminated with inorganic arsenic. Based on the feedback we heard from others, we realized it was important to include information about the potential health effects of inhaling inorganic arsenic, too.  We were also reminded that providing information about those populations that may be more sensitive to the effects of inorganic arsenic is important to the users of the inorganic arsenic assessment.

We also learned that many people wanted to continue to have discussions on science issues that may inform the development of the assessment.  We agreed this was important, and in response started an arsenic webinar series.

To date we have held eight webinars on various topics relevant to assessing the human health risks of exposure to inorganic arsenic. For example, we held one webinar on inorganic arsenic and its potential effects on children’s neurodevelopment. We heard that the most sensitive endpoints to look at when examining the relationship between arsenic and children’s neurodevelopment are IQ and behavior.  We held another one on environmental justice issues related to inorganic arsenic. During that one, we heard about the importance of considering social stressors when looking at susceptibility.  This includes access to nutritional food, health care and prenatal care, and housing conditions.

I have really enjoyed holding these webinars. The talks have been informative, and it has been a great forum for discussion and input. I am happy to note that we are committed to engaging partners and public stakeholders throughout the development of the inorganic arsenic assessment. The next opportunity to provide feedback will be the upcoming IRIS June Bimonthly Public Meeting.

We have released several products for public input and discussion, including an assessment development plan, literature search, risk of bias evaluations for the studies under consideration, evidence tables, and some qualitative summary information about mode of action hypotheses (the chain of events that happens in the body after exposure to cause a health effect).

In addition, we will also be discussing key science issues relevant to assessing the health hazards of inorganic arsenic. A list of these issues is available on our website. We encourage you to help us identify additional science issues that you think are important.

These public discussions will ultimately help shape the science of our assessment. We hope you can join us for the conversation—your input could prove to be another terrific example of the power of teamwork!

About the author:  Janice Lee is a health scientist in EPA’s IRIS Program. She has been with EPA for the past seven years and has a Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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National Academies’ Report Shows that EPA has Strengthened IRIS Program

Reposted from EPA Connect, the official blog of EPA’s leadership.

By Lek Kadeli

Portrait of Lek KadeliOne of the best aspects of my job is working with some of the most dedicated human health and environmental scientists in the business. On a daily basis, I have a behind-the-scenes view of the innovation and problem solving that is meeting the nation’s most pressing environmental challenges and advancing a more sustainable future for us and our children. It’s inspiring to see that progress unfold, and I feel fortunate to have a front row seat. But what’s even more gratifying is when leaders in the scientific community world take notice, too.

That’s exactly what happened today when we received positive news about progress we’ve made to enhance our Integrated Risk Information System, or “IRIS” program. IRIS provides health effects information about environmental contaminants such as dioxin and tetrachloroethylene. The program received some well-deserved kudos from the National Academies’ National Research Council (NRC). I’m really proud of the whole IRIS team! This is an example of EPA science at its best, and how our researchers rise to meet challenges.

Read the rest of the post.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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National Academies’ report shows that EPA has strengthened IRIS program

By Lek Kadeli

One of the best aspects of my job is working with some of the most dedicated human health and environmental scientists in the business. On a daily basis, I have a behind-the-scenes view of the innovation and problem solving that is meeting the nation’s most pressing environmental challenges and advancing a more sustainable future for us and our children. It’s inspiring to see that progress unfold, and I feel fortunate to have a front row seat. But what’s even more gratifying is when leaders in the scientific community world take notice, too.

That’s exactly what happened today when we received positive news about progress we’ve made to enhance our Integrated Risk Information System, or “IRIS” program. IRIS provides health effects information about environmental contaminants such as dioxin and tetrachloroethylene. The program received some well-deserved kudos from the National Academies’ National Research Council (NRC). I’m really proud of the whole IRIS team! This is an example of EPA science at its best, and how our researchers rise to meet challenges.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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