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Two External Review Drafts on Probabilistic Risk Assessment

Using Probabilistic Methods to Enhance the Role of Risk Analysis in Decision-Making, With Case Study Examples
Using Probabilistic Methods to Enhance the Role of Risk Analysis in Decision Making - Managers' Summary
Document Links

The intended goal of the two draft white papers, Using Probabilistic Methods to Enhance the Role of Risk Analysis in Decision-Making, With Case Study Examples, and Using Probabilistic Methods to Enhance the Role of Risk Analysis in Decision Making - Managers' Summary is to describe potential and actual uses of probabilistic tools in the risk decision process, and to encourage their further implementation in human, ecological and environmental risk analysis and related decision making at EPA. The enhanced use of probabilistic analyses to characterize uncertainty in assessments would not only reflect external scientific advice on how to further advance EPA risk assessment science, but will also help to address specific challenges faced by managers and improve confidence in Agency decisions.

These draft documents do not prescribe a specific approach but, rather, describes the various stages and aspects of an assessment or decision process in which probabilistic assessment tools may add value These draft white papers provide answers to common questions regarding PRA, including key concepts such as scientific and institutional motivations for use of PRA, and challenges in the application of probabilistic techniques. The white papers describe how PRA can both enhance the Agency’s credibility and improve decision making.

Public Comment and External Peer Review

The draft documents were released for peer review and public comment on August 18, 2009.

A 60-day public comments period closed October 16, 2009.  Public comments are available online at: http://www.regulations.gov, under DOCKET ID NO. EPA-HQ-ORD-2009-0645.  All comments received by the comment period closing date will be shared with the external review panel for their consideration.  Comments received after that date may be considered by EPA when it finalizes the documents.

External Peer Review Meeting

EPA is announcing that an EPA contractor for external scientific peer review will convene an independent panel of experts and organize and conduct an external peer review meeting to review the two Probabilistic Methods draft documents.  The peer review meeting will be held on May 6, 2010 at 8:30 a.m., and will end approximately 4:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.  The peer-review meeting will be held at the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel, 1800 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, Virginia, 22202.

Registration for this peer review meeting is required.  Space is limited, and reservations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.  A teleconference line will be available to registered observers if traveling is not an option.  In order to participate, you should contact the EPA contractor, ERG, which is organizing, convening, and conducting the peer review meeting.  To attend the meeting, register by April 29, 2010, by calling ERG at (781) 674-7374 or toll free at (800) 803-2833 (ask for the PRA peer review coordinator, Laurie Waite), sending a facsimile to (781) 674-2906 (please reference: “PRA Peer Review Meeting” and include your name, title, affiliation, full address and contact information), or sending an email to meetings@erg.com (subject line: PRA Peer Review Meeting and include your name, title, affiliation, full address and contact information).  You may also register via the Internet at https://www2.ergweb.com/projects/conferences/peerreview/register-pra.htmExit EPA Disclaimer .  When registering, please also indicate whether you would like to make a brief (less than 5 minutes) comment during the observer comment portion of the meeting.

Background

Probabilistic risk analyses (PRA) began playing an increasingly important role in Agency risk assessments following the 1997 EPA publication on the Guiding Principles for Monte-Carlo Analysis (PDF) (39 pp, 265 KB,About PDF), and was a major focus in an associated review of EPA practices by the SAB in September 2006 (PDF) (5 pp, 55 KB,About PDF). The importance of using PRA has been reflected by a number of other advisory scientific panels, most recently by the NAS review of the Dioxin Assessment, and is an integral part of guidelines that the EPA must apply, such as OMB's Circular A-4 and their draft Risk Assessment Bulletin. Therefore, the Office of the Science Advisor of the EPA, together with the Science Policy Council and members of the Risk Assessment Forum (RAF), identified a need to examine the use of probabilistic approaches in Agency risk assessment and risk management. An RAF Technical Panel developed draft papers (the white paper and a manager's summary) which provide a general overview of the value of probabilistic analyses (PRA) and similar or related methods, and some examples of current applications across the Agency.


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