Establishment of Research Priorities Through a Decision Framework. L. R. Papa, G. Rice, R. M. Clark, and E. Brady-Roberts, US Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a two-phased approach for identifying and prioritizing research for environmental contaminants. The approach integrates risk assessment and risk management practices for both chemical and microbial contaminants. The framework’s purpose is to define consistent and clear principles for identifying important contaminants, evaluating their health risks and treatment practices or alternative practices. Phase I is to determine whether a contaminant may be a health hazard and whether it can be treated through conventional treatment. Also in Phase I, the availability and quality of extant exposure data, dose-response data, occurrence data, and analytic methods are evaluated to determine if the contaminant occurs alone or as a component of a mixture at levels that pose a plausible risk to human health. If the contaminant is judged potentially to pose a hazard, then a determination is made whether the contaminant is removed or inactivated by conventional treatment or whether alternative approaches need to be evaluated. However, if it is judged not to pose a risk or is easily treated, future research on the contaminant will be given a lower priority,. If the contaminant poses a potential risk and is not easily treated, then critical research will be identified, prioritized, and conducted as a component of Phase II. Phase II research involves the generation of a more comprehensive database on health effects, analytical methods, occurrence, exposure, risk assessment methods and treatment. Phase II culminates with risk assessments comparing both the current risk as well as the projected change in risk resulting from implementation of an alternative risk management action. The application of this framework to environmental assessments under The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) will be explored. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this presentation are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
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