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regularly updated computer diskettes distributed to IRIS users. Many state and local regulatory agencies, as well as scientists working in the field of regulatory toxicology, would find IRIS to be a valuable reference source.
The IRIS files contain not only the toxicological data, but also EPA's summary of these data, which may be in the form of the weight-of-evidence characterization for carcinogenicity, unit risk numbers for substances judged to have sufficient evidence for carcinogenicity in animals or humans, and reference dose numbers. This type of information may be widely used both within EPA and by other environmental regulatory agencies as the basis for regulatory decisions. It is therefore very important that the information in IRIS be carefully reviewed for its accuracy, timeliness, and completeness, and that appropriate caveats regarding the data and EPA's evaluation of the data be included in the IRIS files.
We recommend that SAB reviews of Agency documents on specific substances be referenced in the IRIS files for these substances. A short summary of the SAB evaluation of EPA conclusions, especially as to the weight-of-evidence characterization, unit risk, or reference dose, should also be included in the IRIS file, and a short summary of any subsequent communication from the Administrator back to SAB in response to its evaluation.
We understand that Federal Register notices of proposed regulatory actions and final regulatory actions for chemicals in IRIS are now included in the regulatory summaries of IRIS files for those chemicals, a step forward which we commend. In the same vein, major EPA scientific reports such as health advisories, health assessment documents, criteria documents, and Risk Assessment Forum reports should also be cited in IRIS files, and we understand that this will occur in the future. Checks of the files for individual chemicals indicated that IRIS currently lacks citations to some key EPA reports on specific chemicals.
The current computer implementation of IRIS is somewhat cumbersome. For example, capabilities such as returning to earlier text in files or doing searches for specific words or phrases are not available in the current implementation. We understand that the computer implementation of IRIS will be upgraded, and we urge EPA to develop an implementation that is flexible, and ''user friendly" for the spectrum of anticipated users both inside and outside of EPA. EPA should also consider the need for, and potential benefits from, developing more training materials and on-line help capabilities to assist users unfamiliar with IRIS to learn how to use the system. In any such efforts, EPA should remain cognizant that an increase in users should be expected, and the system designed accordingly.
The Agency needs an overall strategy on computerized lists of chemicals,