The Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) was created by the EPA in 1985 as a program that evaluates the health effects that can occur from exposure to various chemical substances in the environment. The information, which now totals more than 550 chemicals, is organized in a database accessible across the Agency. Through the IRIS Program, the EPA is able to provide the highest quality science-based human health assessments, as searchable documents organized into 2 categories, non cancer effects and cancer effects.
For the past couple years they’ve been working to improve the program and in 2013 announced broad changes designed to “produce more high quality assessments in a timely and transparent manner”. They developed a new document structure, added a standard preamble to all assessments that describes the IRIS process, drafted a handbook that provides a more detailed description of this process and its underlying principles, formed chemical assessment support teams to oversee the process and ensure consistency, and increased opportunities for stakeholder input. A key feature was the addition of bimonthly public science meetings focused on specific assessments.
In recognition of these changes, in May, the National Research Council (NRC) released their review of the IRIS assessment development process, applauding the EPA’s efforts of “substantial improvements.”
Its important that agency’s like these are constantly looking to improve their process, as the information they provide is crucial to those of us who work hard to provide a means to a healthy and safe industrial environment. To find out more about the IRIS or to look through their database visit http://www.epa.gov/iris/index.html.