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Risk Assessment

Guidelines for Human Exposure Assessment

The EPA identifies the components of a chemical risk assessment as the hazard identification, dose-response, and exposure assessments that are then integrated into a risk characterization. Of the three, the exposure assessment is the most important in influencing the risk characterization since exposures can be controlled, whereas the hazard identification and dose-response assessments describe inherent features of the agent.  

In order to promote consistency and transparency in EPA risk assessments, the Agency produces guidance that articulates the current state-of-the-practice at EPA. The current guidance document for human exposure assessment, Guidelines for Exposure Assessment, was published in 1992, reflecting the state-of-the-science in the 1970s and 1980s. Since its publication, the field of exposure science has undergone significant transformation in methods and approaches. EPA programs have incorporated many of these advances into their policies and practices. Accordingly, the exposure guidelines are being revised and updated to reflect these changes.

The Draft Guidelines for Human Exposure Assessment, benefits from over two decades of experience with EPA assessments conducted by Agency programs under their respective authorities and constraints, and input from external panels, including the National Academies of Sciences and EPA’s Science Advisory Board. These new draft guidelines extend topics covered in the 1992 exposure guidelines including planning and scoping for an assessment, data acquisition and use, modeling, and consideration of uncertainty. In addition, it includes new material on planning and conducting an observational human exposure measurement study and considerations of lifestages and sensitive populations in exposure assessments. The draft guidelines present the most current science used in EPA exposure assessments and incorporates the Agency’s current policies.

The docket for comments on the external review draft is located on the internet at the following address:
Docket ID: EPA-HQ-ORD-2015-0684

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