National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Releases Peer Review Report Commending EPA’s “IRIS Handbook”


the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the release of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (NASEM) external peer review report of the Office of Research and Development (ORD) Staff Handbook for Developing Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Assessments, or the IRIS Handbook. The IRIS Handbook provides standard operating procedures for staffers that are developing IRIS assessments. The Handbook includes systematic review approaches that promote consistency and ensure that contributors to IRIS assessments understand how the assessment components are developed.

“EPA appreciates the NASEM’s comprehensive and robust review of the IRIS Handbook,” said Wayne Cascio, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “NASEM’s acknowledgement of the significant progress made by the IRIS Program to advance the science of systematic review marks an important milestone for the Agency, and EPA will continue to strengthen its scientific assessments following recommendations provided in the report.”

EPA’s IRIS Program develops assessments that identify human health hazards associated with exposure to chemicals found in the environment, referred to as hazard identification, and toxicity values for human health effects resulting from that exposure.  EPA’s IRIS assessments are used by EPA offices, state and local health agencies, other federal agencies, and international health organizations to support decision-making. The Handbook does not supersede existing EPA guidance and does not serve as guidance for other EPA programs.

EPA contracted with the NASEM to conduct an external peer review of the IRIS Handbook. The report released today commends EPA’s IRIS Program on its impressive progress in developing and integrating systematic review methods. The report acknowledges that “the IRIS process for developing assessments can serve as a model for other parts of EPA that are implementing systematic review methods.” In addition, the NASEM committee praised the IRIS Program’s systematic review approaches by stating that the program “is clearly helping to advance the science of systematic review as applied to hazard identification.” Key recommendations provided by the peer review panel were generally focused on improving clarity in the IRIS Handbook.

The IRIS Program will incorporate feedback from the report and continue to advance the science of conducting robust and rigorous systematic reviews for human health assessments.



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