National Academies Press: OpenBook

Issues in Risk Assessment (1993)


Suggested Citation:"INTEGRATION OF ECOLOGICAL RISK INTO THE 1983 FRAMEWORK." National Research Council. 1993. Issues in Risk Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2078.

or ecosystems are to be protected? must costs be weighed against benefits? is the objective to protect the resource or to optimize exploitation of the resource?). The committee agrees with the consensus from the workshop that the initial phases of an ecological risk assessment involve a consideration of regulatory/legal mandates that goes well beyond the definition of hazard identification presented in the 1983 report.


The committee believes that integration of ecological risks into the 1983 risk assessment framework is preferable to developing a de novo ecological risk assessment framework. Like health risk assessment, ecological risk assessment must be defined in broad terms if it is to be applicable to the full array of environmental problems that regulatory and resource management agencies must address. Moreover, any framework chosen for ecological risk assessment must be simple, flexible, and general, so that it will be understood by both scientists and the risk managers with whom scientists must communicate. The 1983 framework, by any measure, has been extraordinarily successful in communicating the broad features of health risk assessment throughout the scientific and regulatory communities. Although ecological risk assessment and human health risk assessment differ substantially in terms of scientific disciplines and technical problems, the committee believes that the underlying decision process is the same for both. The function of risk assessment is to link science to decision-making, and that basic function is essentially the same whether risks to humans or risks to the environment are being considered. Finally, the committee believes that prospects for integration of human and ecological concerns into comprehensive environmental policies protective of both will be enhanced if a common framework and terminology can be found that describes both kinds of risk assessments.

The committee agrees with the consensus at the workshop that the framework defined in the 1983 report is inadequate as written for application to ecological problems because the framework (1) does not account for legal mandates and other policy considerations that substantially influence the initial stages and focus of ecological risk assessments

Suggested Citation:"INTEGRATION OF ECOLOGICAL RISK INTO THE 1983 FRAMEWORK." National Research Council. 1993. Issues in Risk Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2078.
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The scientific basis, inference assumptions, regulatory uses, and research needs in risk assessment are considered in this two-part volume.

The first part, Use of Maximum Tolerated Dose in Animal Bioassays for Carcinogenicity, focuses on whether the maximum tolerated dose should continue to be used in carcinogenesis bioassays. The committee considers several options for modifying current bioassay procedures.

The second part, Two-Stage Models of Carcinogenesis, stems from efforts to identify improved means of cancer risk assessment that have resulted in the development of a mathematical dose-response model based on a paradigm for the biologic phenomena thought to be associated with carcinogenesis.

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