Science and Decisions: Advancing Risk Assessment (NAS Final Report)

In August 2009, the Committee on Improving Risk Analysis Approaches Used by the U.S. EPA, National Research Council released a final report, requested and sponsored by the EPA, entitled Science and Decisions: Advancing Risk Assessment 2009.

Risk assessment has become a dominant public policy tool for making choices, based on limited resources, to protect public health and the environment. It has been instrumental to the mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as other federal agencies in evaluating public health concerns, informing regulatory and technological decisions, prioritizing research needs and funding, and in developing approaches for cost-benefit analysis.

However, risk assessment is at a crossroads. Despite advances in the field, risk assessment faces a number of significant challenges including lengthy delays in making complex decisions; lack of data leading to significant uncertainty in risk assessments; and many chemicals in the marketplace that have not been evaluated and emerging agents requiring assessment.

Science and Decisions makes practical scientific and technical recommendations to address these challenges. This book is a complement to the widely used 1983 National Academies book, Risk Assessment in he Federal Government (also known as the Red Book). The earlier book established a framework for the concepts and conduct of risk assessment that has been adopted by numerous expert committees, regulatory agencies, and public health institutions. The new book embeds these concepts within a broader framework for risk-based decision-making. Together, these are essential references for those working in the regulatory and public health fields.

This document has been reviewed in accordance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency policy and approved for publication. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.