In February 2021, EPA announced the Agency’s commitment to strengthening science used in chemical risk evaluations. EPA stated the Agency will continue to update its systematic review approach and its broader efforts to review the first 10 TSCA risk evaluations. The first 10 TSCA risk evaluations were complete in January 2021. Following the review of their 2018 systematic review approach by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS), EPA stated they will never use that particular systematic review again.
NAS recommendations included:
- Engaging in ongoing cross-sector efforts to develop and validate new tools and approaches.
- Incorporating components of existing hazard assessments approaches.
- Creating a handbook to assist with incomplete and hard to follow documentation.
- Using standard descriptors for the strength of evidence.
EPA stressed that the NAS report was based on earlier EPA practices, and part of the reason for updating the systematic review approach is to ensure the review of the first 10 TSCA risk evaluations are done in accordance with Executive Orders and other directives from the Biden Administration. The Agency’s goals from the review are that:
- All Agency actions meet statutory obligations,
- Be guided by the best available science,
- Ensure the integrity of Federal decision-making, and
- Protect human health and the environment.
EPA has begun the process of creating a TSCA systematic review protocol in collaboration with the Agency’s Office of Research and Development. The new review protocol will incorporate approaches from the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program, as recommended by NAS. EPA expects to publish and take comments on the new review protocol later this year.