In response to mounting criticism, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program is implementing several new changes. IRIS is a human health assessment program and database that establishes safety factors for more than 550 chemicals. The EPA derives its IRIS values from available toxicological literature, including human and animal laboratory data. For each chemical in the IRIS database, there is an assessment that evaluates the toxicological or health effects of the chemical and one or more risk values, including cancer and non-cancer risk assessments. “The IRIS process consists of the development of a draft toxicological review for a chemical; internal and external scientific reviews of the draft document; the EPA’s responses to review comments; and the development and posting of an IRIS summary and final toxicological review to the EPA's website.” (www.epagov/iris/process.htm.) The IRIS assessments are important factors in determining Superfund and other contaminated site clean-up requirements, air quality limits, drinking water maximum contaminant levels, and other environmental quality regulations, policies, and rankings.
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