A Message to Our Stakeholders
In July 2013, EPA announced enhancements to the IRIS Program to improve the scientific foundation of assessments, increase transparency, and improve productivity. Stakeholder engagement is an essential part of the enhancements, and since announcing them, we have held bimonthly public meetings to discuss scientific issues related to preliminary assessment materials and draft IRIS assessments.
Anyone may participate in our bimonthly public science meetings. This means you can register to participate as a discussant on a specific scientific issue identified by EPA, or you can identify one of your own. Likewise, you may participate in the meetings more generally (i.e., not sign up for a specific scientific topic, but participate during discussion and open forum sessions). EPA does not put together an invited panel for these meetings, and the agenda reflects those individuals who requested to participate in the scientific discussions.
We use a variety of ways to publicize the meetings. The meetings are announced on the IRIS website and through the IRIS Listserv and Human Health Risk Assessment research program bulletins, which reach more than 7,000 people combined. We also use various social media platforms.
Obtaining different perspectives on scientific issues is important, and we are exploring additional mechanisms to reach out to scientists and other individuals who might be interested in participating in our meetings. We recognize that not all of our stakeholders have the resources to travel to a meeting. Thus, for the past year and a half, every IRIS public meeting has also been available by webinar. We are actively exploring new mechanisms to ensure that webinar participants can more fully engage in our meetings, including introducing telephone connections that allow webinar participants to actively participate in discussions. We welcome ideas from the public about how to obtain additional perspectives on the complex scientific issues that are discussed at IRIS bimonthly public science meetings.