Developments in the IRIS Program
The IRIS Program continues to evolve, with a focus on producing high-quality evidence-based assessments and greater opportunities for public input. These improvements include the following:
NRC Workshop to Discuss Advances Made to the IRIS Program
A committee of the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) hosted a two-day public workshop to review systematic review and other method advances made by EPA in its IRIS Program. Workshop topics focused on how IRIS addressed the 2014 NAS recommendations, including approaches for evidence identification, evidence evaluation, and evidence integration, and advances in quantitative methods. The NAS panel developed a report based on information presented by EPA at the workshop.
SAB-CAAC Briefing on the Evolution of IRIS Assessment Practices
EPA presented an update on the evolution of assessment practices in the IRIS Program to the Science Advisory Board (SAB) Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee (CAAC) (see the epa.gov/sab website for additional details. A focus of this briefing was the introduction of the draft IRIS Assessment Plan (IAP), a recent effort to more formally integrate systematic review into IRIS scoping/problem formulation. Draft IAPs for nitrate/nitrite, ethylbenzene, and chloroform were provided to the SAB-CAAC as case studies.
July 2016 Updating Pesticide Values on the IRIS Database
EPA announced that the IRIS database would archive 51 pesticides in a continuing effort to strengthen and update the IRIS database. The IRIS database holds a number of health assessments for pesticides that were conducted prior to 2004, and for which there is a publicly available Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) health risk assessment that provides more recent toxicity values than those in the IRIS database.
The IRIS Program announced in a February 9, 2004 Federal Register Notice that it would remove currently registered pesticides from its list of future assessments because OPP was conducting similar assessments as part of the pesticide re-registration process. Since that time, OPP has continued to re-evaluate currently registered pesticides on a regular basis and provide pesticide risk assessments on EPA’s website. The assessments that are being archived from the IRIS database are a group of pesticides that have more recent publicly available toxicity values from OPP. Archived IRIS information will continue to be available on the IRIS website for historical reference purposes in addition to links to OPP toxicity information. EPA offices and regions will continue to work together to review additional pesticide entries that were added to the IRIS database in 2004 or before to identify other assessments to be archived.
- A list of the IRIS pesticide chemical assessments archived (July 2016)
- Learn more about OPP’s Human Health Benchmarks for Pesticides System
- Read the overview of risk assessment in the pesticide program
October 2015 Redesigned IRIS Website
EPA launched a redesigned IRIS website to provide a more user-friendly interface, easier navigation, and improved content for IRIS users. New features of the redesigned web site include chemical-specific web pages, enhanced search capabilities, and a calendar to track meetings, workshops, and other events. For assessments in development, the site provides assessment status information, upcoming meeting dates, links to draft materials, and assessment schedules that support more transparent tracking of assessments in development.
October 2014 NRC Experts Augment IRIS Public Science Meeting Discussions
EPA announced an agreement with the National Academies’ National Research Council (NRC) to arrange for independent experts to attend IRIS public science meetings to provide input on the science underlying the development of IRIS assessments. These independent experts, speaking on their own behalf, will join in the discussion of the key science topics with EPA, stakeholders, and the public.
- Learn more about the experts identified by the NRC to join discussions at IRIS public science meetings
- Additional information about IRIS and the National Research Council
October 2014 Workshop on NRC Recommendations
EPA held a public workshop on October 15-16, 2014, in Arlington, VA, to discuss the specific recommendations from the National Academies’ National Research Council’s May 2014 report on IRIS. In their report, the NRC commended EPA for its substantive new approaches to assessment development, 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.
- Additional details are available at the public workshop to discuss some specific recommendations from the National Academies’ National Research Council’s May 2014 report on IRIS.
Also provided were several recommendations which they said should be seen as building on the progress that EPA has already made. Specific workshop topics included:
- systematic integration of evidence streams for IRIS
- adapting systematic review methodologies for IRIS
- advancing dose-response analysis.
This workshop provided an opportunity for the public and scientific community to provide input about specific NRC recommendations. Workshop discussions provided useful perspectives for the IRIS Program in its work to implement NRC recommendations.
March 2014 General Comments Docket
EPA announced the availability of a new general comments docket for the IRIS Program. This docket provides the public with the opportunity to submit comments that have broad applicability to the IRIS Program. The intent of this docket is to promote transparency and open dialogue within the IRIS stakeholder community.
August 2013 Systematic Review Workshop
EPA held a public workshop on August 26, 2013, in Arlington, VA, to examine the state-of-the--science of systematic review methodology. The workshop focused on recent developments in systematic review as the methodology has expanded outside the arena of evidence-based medicine. The goal for this workshop was to receive scientific input on approaches for different steps within a systematic review, including:
- evaluating individual studies
- synthesizing evidence within a particular discipline
- integrating evidence across different disciplines to draw scientific conclusions and causality determinations.
July 2013 IRIS Enhancements
- Press Release Announcement: EPA Strengthens Chemical Assessment Process to Protect Public Health - July 31, 2013 (See the EPA Archives for additional details)
- Fact Sheet About the IRIS 2013 Enhancements
- A Message to Our Stakeholders
EPA announced enhancements to the IRIS Process which were implemented to:
- improve the scientific foundation of assessments,
- increase transparency in the program and the process, and
- allow the agency to produce more IRIS assessments each year.
Highlights of the 2013 IRIS enhancements include:
- A public problem formulation meeting before beginning development of an IRIS assessment
- Release of preliminary materials early in the assessment development process with a public meeting to hear comments on the materials.
- Related enhancement materials include:
Flexibility to revise draft assessments as needed after hearing the public’s comments prior to peer review with
- Stopping rules for incorporating new data and raising scientific issues, and
- Strengthened practices for peer review.
January 2013 CAAC Established
EPA's Science Advisory Board (SAB)announced the establishment of the Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee (CAAC) for review of IRIS assessments. The CAAC committee was chartered to provide advice on IRIS assessments and consultations on broader science questions related to the IRIS Program. This action continued the Agency’s efforts to further strengthen the IRIS program.
Earlier changes made to improve the IRIS assessment development process can be found on the history of IRIS.