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OCR for page 267
Issues in Risk Assessment 6 Recommendations The committee recommends that risk assessors, risk managers, and regulatory agencies should adopt a uniform framework for ecological risk assessment. The framework used should be general and flexible and should facilitate communication between scientists and risk managers. The objective is to systematize the regulatory process, not to specify a particular calculational procedure or data requirement. The extension of the 1983 NRC human health risk assessment framework described in this report and summarized in Figure 3-2 emphasizes the common elements of health risk and ecological risk assessment. The committee recommends that state and federal agencies expand the issue of risk assessment in strategic planning and priority-setting. Those assessments can help agencies to focus their resources on critical environmental problems and uncertainties, and that focus would result in more cost effective and efficient regulatory initiatives. Assessments at this level can be principally judgment-based and need not involve explicit quantification. The committee recommends that agencies support the development of improved methods of risk characterization and consistent guidelines for applying them. Improvement is needed in extrapolation of population and ecosystem effects, expression of risks in terms that are useful for decision-making and understood by the public at large, and evaluation and communication of quantitative and qualitative uncertainties. EPA and other agencies, including state agencies, should institute systematic followup of risk assessments with research and monitoring to
OCR for page 268
Issues in Risk Assessment determine the accuracy of predictions and resolve remaining uncertainties. The committee recommends that EPA and other agencies support systematic research programs to improve the credibility and utility of ecological risk assessments and draw on scientific expertise available outside the agencies themselves to develop technical guidance on the scientific content of ecological risk assessments.