Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS):
Today, EPA released for a 60-day public comment period the draft IRIS assessment for ammonia. Excerpts from the agency’s press release are provided below, and a copy of the draft assessment is avaialble here.
IRIS is a human health assessment program that evaluates information on health effects that may result from exposure to environmental contaminants. Through the IRIS Program, EPA attempts to provide the highest quality science-based human health assessments to support the Agency’s regulatory activities. The IRIS database is web-accessible and contains information on more than 550 chemical substances. Readers familiar with IRIS will recall the various criticisms of the agency’s evaluation process, which EPA has been attempting to address, as described in further detail here. General background information on IRIS is available here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2012
EPA Draft Ammonia Assessment Available for Public Comment
Draft assessment continues agency’s responsiveness to NAS recommendations
WASHINGTON – The U.S Environmental Protection Agency today announced the release of its draft Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) health assessment for ammonia. The draft assessment will be available for public comment for 60 days and will be sent for independent expert peer review.
Ammonia is used in agricultural fertilizers, the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and explosives, water purification, household cleaners, as a refrigerant, and in many industries. Scientific studies show that ammonia can affect the respiratory system. The draft assessment includes an estimate of the amount of ammonia a person can inhale daily throughout a lifetime that is not likely to cause harmful health effects, which is less stringent than the current value for ammonia on IRIS.
The draft IRIS assessment for ammonia represents major progress for EPA in implementing the April 2011 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recommendations for improving IRIS assessments. The draft assessment uses a new streamlined document structure that is more transparent and clear; includes a template for describing the literature search approach; identifies the strengths and weaknesses of analyzed studies; and describes how EPA applied their guidance, methods, and criteria in developing the assessment.
When the assessment is final it will be posted to the IRIS database. IRIS is a publicly available online database that provides high quality science-based human health assessments used to inform the agency’s decisions on protecting public health and the environment.
The IRIS database contains crucial information on more than 550 chemical substances and their impacts on human health. Governments and private entities use data from IRIS in conjunction with exposure information to help characterize the public health risks of chemical substances. These characterizations are then considered in risk management decisions to protect public health.