EPA Issues Metals Risk Assessment Framework

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Courtesy of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

Businesses have long believed that assessing potential risks from metal and inorganic chemical exposures are qualitatively and quantitatively different from assessing potential risks from organic chemical substances. On March 8, EPA capped off an intensive effort that fundamentally recognized these differences in announcing the availability of its final Framework for Metals Risk Assessment.

Metals are unique
In EPA’s words, metals “present unique risk assessment issues.” Industry groups have long urged federal and state agencies to specify risk assessment principles, assumptions and paradigms for the risks associated with metals. In announcing the framework’s availability, EPA stated that its purpose was “to present key guiding principles based on the unique attributes of metals (as differentiated from organic and organometallic compounds) and to describe how these metals-specific attributes and principles may then be applied in the context of existing EPA risk assessment guidance and practices.”

The agency notes that the framework “is not a prescriptive guide on how any particular type of assessment should be conducted within an EPA program or regional office.” Rather, the framework “outlines key metal principles and describes how they should be considered in conducting human health and ecological risk assessments to advance our understanding of metal’s impact and foster consistency across EPA programs and regions.”

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