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Guidance on Searching for Chemical Information and Data

Types of Information Sources

Small green Ball Introduction
Small green Ball Types of Information Sources
Small green Ball Locating Studies and Data
Small green Ball Suggested Information Sources
Types of Information Sources
Internal company files and data
Many chemical companies have chemical information files.  All manufacturers and importers of a given high production volume chemical are encouraged to identify and provide to the sponsoring companies any relevant studies which are identified.  Information specialists within each company should be able to assist in searching and retrieving information from these internal files.  Companies should also contact laboratories or researchers for results of studies that they have previously sponsored.
The importance of identifying unpublished company studies should not be underestimated.  Given the practical difficulties associated with publishing negative results, searches of company files could representa significant source of currently unrecognized test data.
The scientific literature
The results of many studies have been published in the scientific literature.  In the past, indexes were created to provide access to this information. In some cases, this was done by government agencies such as the National Library of Medicine. In others, non-profit professional societies or for-profit companies published indexes or abstracts.  Most published journal articles and conference proceedings worldwide are abstracted, indexed, and compiled into electronic databases which are specific to a particular subject matter (for example, chemistry, biology, or toxicology).  Through the use of such databases one can quickly and easily identify potentially useful articles or proceedings.

Once published in the literature, scientists can review a study and try to replicate the results obtained by the original investigator as part of the scientific process.  Data that has been evaluated in this way can then be incorporated into reference works such as review articles, handbooks, and encyclopedias.

Many indexes were prepared electronically long before the advent of the World Wide Web. Many of these databases are available only through accounts, since vendors usually had their own database systems.  Many vendors are now making their databases available via the Internet though most still require some type of account for searching their databases.  In addition to indexes, which generally are bibliographic databases, some databases only contain actual data about a chemical.  These "numeric databases" often serve as the electronic version of a handbook. Other databases include both bibliographic entries and data.

Most chemical databases, whether numeric or bibliographic, are indexed by CAS Registry Number. Those that are not will need to be searched by name or other data element.  Suggestions for searching are included in the "Locating Studies and Data" section of this guide.

Books and other publications
While much information is available through online databases or the Internet, there is still information that is only available in print.  In addition to encyclopedias and handbooks, chemical dictionaries can include data about a chemical.  Several standard references <link to books section of list> are included on the list of suggested sources.<link to list>  (If a chemical has been particularly well studied, a text or monograph may have been written about it.)

Government agencies

Government agencies, in the United States as well as those in other countries, may review the literature for information on chemical hazards.  In some cases, agencies may have access to unpublished data submitted to them or that they have gathered. Because agencies have differing regulatory responsibilities, the types of chemicals for which they are authorized to gather data, the types of data which are gathered, the level of detail required in the data, and whether they apply existing data in an assessment context can vary greatly from one agency to another.

U.S. government agencies that produce or review chemical test data on chemical hazards include:

Sponsors should be aware if agencies other than EPA regulate the chemical in question and whether they require data submissions.  Other Federal agencies may have proprietary data to which EPA may not be given access without permission of the data submitter.  Companies that have submitted such studies to other agencies are encouraged to submit copies of the studies to EPA under the HPV Challenge Program.  If a sponsor thinks that a chemical might be regulated by an agency, it is recommended that the sponsor follow whatever procedure the agency has established for identifying and obtaining appropriate data.

IMPORTANT: The fact that a resource is included in this guide does not mean that EPA is endorsing thosee source.  Nor does it mean that EPA will automatically accept data included in or referenced by those sources.   Studies and data will need to meet the requirements as spelled out in the guidance document on data adequacy in order to be accepted under the HPV Challenge Program.

Send comments to the Chemical Right to Know staff (oppt.chemrtk@epa.gov)

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