[Note: I was a member of the Committee that produced the NRC report. - LS]
Substantial Improvements Made in EPA’s IRIS Program, Report Says
WASHINGTON – A new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council says that changes EPA has proposed and implemented into its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) process are “substantial improvements.” While acknowledging the progress made to date, the report offers further guidance and recommendations to improve the overall scientific and technical performance of the program, which is used to assess the hazards posed by environmental contaminants.
In 2011, a Research Council committee reviewed EPA’s IRIS assessment for formaldehyde and found deficiencies both in the particular assessment as well as more broadly in EPA’s general assessment methods. EPA was directed by Congress to implement the report’s general recommendations on the IRIS process, and the Research Council was then tasked with assessing the changes made and recommending additional modifications.
In response to the recommendations in the formaldehyde report, EPA developed a new document structure, added a standard preamble to all assessments that describes the IRIS process, drafted a handbook that provides a more detailed description of this process and its underlying principles, formed chemical assessment support teams to oversee the process and ensure consistency, and increased opportunities for stakeholder input.