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NRC Recommendations Workshop

UPDATE: EPA has identified several recommendations from the 2014 NRC report that warrant further discussion with the public and scientific community. These specific recommendations are categorized under three broad topics and will be discussed at a public workshop on October 15-16, 2014. We invite you to provide early input about these topics or suggest speakers for the workshop by commenting on our blog post.

EPA is planning a public workshop to discuss some specific recommendations from the National Academies' National Research Council's May 2014 report on further improving the scientific quality of IRIS assessments. 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 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 that EPA has already made. This workshop will allow EPA to get input from the public and scientific community about some specific topics related to the NRC's May 2014 recommendations. These discussions will inform the IRIS Program's work to advance the science of risk assessment and the development of IRIS assessments. This workshop will be open to the public, broadcast by webinar/teleconference, and will take place in Arlington, VA. Additional details, including an agenda, will be available soon.

Date/Time:

This workshop is scheduled to take place on October 15-16, 2014.

Location:

The workshop will be held in the EPA Conference Center at 2777 South Crystal Drive, Arlington, Virginia 22202. The workshop will also be available by webinar/teleconference.

Workshop Overview:

EPA is planning a public workshop to discuss some specific recommendations from the National Academies' National Research Council's May 2014 report on further improving the scientific quality of IRIS assessments. This workshop will allow EPA to get input from the public and scientific community about some specific topics related to the NRC's May 2014 recommendations. These discussions will inform the IRIS Program's work to advance the science of risk assessment and the development of IRIS assessments. EPA has identified several recommendations from the 2014 NRC report that warrant further discussion with the public and scientific community. These specific recommendations, outlined below, are categorized under three broad topics. We invite you to provide early input about these topics or suggest speakers for the workshop by commenting on our blog post.

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.

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