An Assessment of Integrated Risk Assessment (Journal Article)
In order to promote international understanding and acceptance of the integrated risk assessment process, the WHO/IPCS, in collaboration with the U.S. EPA and the OECD, initiated a number of activities related to integrated risk assessment. In this project, WHO/IPCS defines integrated risk assessment as a science-based approach that combines the processes of risk estimation for humans, biota, and natural resources in one assessment. This paper explores the strengths and weaknesses of integration as identified up to this date and the degree of acceptance of this concept by the global risk assessment/risk management community. It discusses both opportunities and impediments for further development and implementation. The major emerging opportunities for an integrated approach stem from the increasing societal and political pressure to move away from vertebrate testing leading to a demand for scientific integrated approaches to in vivo, in vitro and in silico testing in so-called Intelligent Testing Strategies. In addition, by weighing the evidence from conventional mammalian toxicology, ecotoxicology, human epidemiology and eco-epidemiology, risk assessors could better characterize mechanisms of action and the forms of the relationships of exposures to responses. It is concluded that further demonstrations of scientific, economic and regulatory benefits of an integrated approach are needed. As risk assessment is becoming more mechanistic and molecular this may create an integrated approach based on common mechanisms and a common systems-biology approach.