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Science Advisor Programs

Basic Information about Human Subjects Research

Program in Human Research Ethics and Oversight (PHREO) Overview

EPA's Program in Human Research Ethics and Oversight (PHREO) supports the ethical conduct and regulatory compliance of human subjects research conducted or supported by the EPA. This support is accomplished through project review, cross-agency partnership, and education and training. The PHREO reviews, supports, and guides the work of EPA affiliated or supported researchers involved in human subjects research to ensure that the rights and welfare of human research subjects are protected. The PHREO is in place to ensure that all EPA employees, contractors, grant recipients, and parties to other EPA agreements adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct and are properly informed of the regulatory aspects of research involving human subjects. All research involving human subjects proposed by EPA staff or EPA supported researchers must be approved by the EPA Human Subjects Research Review Official (HSRRO) before human subjects work may begin.

Human subjects research (HSR) at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows for the collection of valuable information necessary for characterizing and controlling risks to public health. Research involving human subjects informs decision-making and the formulation of regulatory standards at the Agency. HSR is critical for EPA’s program offices to consider when making regulatory decisions under many of the programs it administers, e.g., National Ambient Air Quality Standards, water quality criteria and drinking water standards, pollution mitigation techniques, and pesticide registration. HSR studies advance scientists’ understanding of the links between human health and the environment so that the EPA is better able to carry out its mission.