Recent 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. Recent improvements include the following:


July 2016 Updating Pesticide Values on the IRIS Database

EPA announced that the IRIS database is archiving 51 pesticides in continuing efforts 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 was removing 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 Archived IRIS information will continue to be available on the IRIS website for historical reference purposes in addition to links to OPP toxicity information.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.


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.

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.

They also provided 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

EPA announced enhancements to the IRIS assessment development process. These enhancements 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 included:

  • A public problem formulation meeting before beginning to develop an IRIS assessment
  • Release of preliminary materials early in the assessment development process with a public meeting to hear comments on the materials

Flexibility to revise draft assessments as needed after hearing the public’s comments prior to peer review

  • Stopping rules for incorporating new data and raising scientific issues
  • 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.

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