Legal lookout: EPA updates IRIS process, again

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Courtesy of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

As EPA works to get its toxicological database back on track after lapsing for years, big questions arise as to the process' integrity.

EPA announced in a May 21, 2009, memorandum that it has reformed the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), again. According to the agency, the revisions are intended to 'revitalize the program and ensure its scientific quality, integrity, transparency and timeliness.' In the memo, Administrator Jackson stated that recent changes, including procedures formalized in an April 21, 2008, memorandum, 'have reduced the transparency, timeliness, and scientific integrity of the IRIS process.'

The new process will be entirely managed by EPA, which will have final responsibility for the content of all IRIS assessments. To ensure the scientific quality of IRIS assessments, the process will include the opportunity for public comment and rely on 'a rigorous, open, and independent external peer review.' The IRIS process will be shortened to 23 months, 'speeding the availability of IRIS assessments to the risk assessor community and the public and providing for more timely action to protect public health.' Jackson's memo and other materials are available at http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=190045.

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