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Living organisms interact regularly with chemical and microbial agents in our environment, in our food, and in the products we use everyday. Risk assessment seeks to understand the body or ecosystem's response to those interactions, with the goal of identifying adverse effects, and quantitatively estimating levels of exposure that are unlikely to produce negative consequences.

Ultimately, the risk assessment determines the magnitude of a specific risk so that decision makers (risk managers) can conclude whether the potential hazard is sufficiently great that it needs to be managed or regulated, reduced, or removed. (EPA)

Teaching Resources

Powerpoint Presentation on Risk Assessment

Age of Risk Management by Kimberly M Thompson ScD

European, Asian, and International Agencies

  • ATSDR, Toxic Substances Disease Registry. From the U.S. Health and Human Services. Online. (accessed 04 April 2007).  "By Congressional mandate, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) produces "toxicological profiles" for hazardous substances found at National Priorities List (NPL) sites. These hazardous substances are ranked based on frequency of occurrence at NPL sites, toxicity, and potential for human exposure."

Non-Governmental Agencies

  • American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). Online. (accessed: 10 April 2003). "The ACGIS community of professionals advances worker health and safety through education and the development and dissemination of scientific and technical knowledge.

  • Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA). Online. (accessed: 10 April 2003). "TERA is a nonprofit501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to the best use of toxicity data for the development of risk values."

  • Society for Risk Analysis (SRA). Online. (accessed: 10 April 2003). "SRA provides an open forum for all those who are interested in risk analysis. Risk analysis is broadly defined to include risk assessment, risk characterization, risk communication, risk management, and policy relating to risk."

  • Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. Online. (accessed: 10 April 2003). This Center focuses on "using decision science to empower informed choices about risks to health, safety, and the environment."

  • The Hampshire Research Institute (HRI). Online. (accessed: 10 April 2003). "HRI uses scientific, engineering, and computing expertise to make a difference on environmental issues."

  • Ag BioTech InfoNet - Precautionary Principle. Online. (accessed: 10 April 2003). Site has wide array information on the precautionary principle.

  • The Science & Environmental Health Network - Precautionary Principle. Online. (accessed: 10 April 2003).
    SEHN advocates the wise application of science to protecting the environment and public health.

  • International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). Online (accessed: 04 April 2007). From their website: "the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) is a nonprofit, worldwide foundation that seeks to improve the well-being of the general public through the advancement of science. Its goal is to further the understanding of scientific issues relating to nutrition, food safety, toxicology, risk assessment, and the environment by bringing together scientists from academia, government, and industry."

  • National Academies of Sciences (NAS), Division of Earth and Life Sciences (DELS). The Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology (BEST)maintains a Standing Committee on Risk Analysis Issues and Reviews ("NAS Issues Committee"). Online. (accessed 04 April 2007). The mission of the National Academies is to "perform an unparalleled public service by bringing together committees of experts in all areas of scientific and technological endeavor. These experts serve pro bono to address critical national issues and give advice to the federal government and the public."


United States Environemtnal Protection Agency (EPA). Risk Assessment Portal.

A Guide to Health Risk Assessment. California Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Available as a pdf file. Online. (accessed: 10 April 2003).

The Precautionary Principle In Action a Handbook. Science and Environmental health Network, Joel Tickner, Carolyn Raffensperger, and Nancy Myers. Online. (accessed: 10 April 2003).

TOXNET. Online. Accessed 04 April 2007. Contains a number of searchable Toxicology databases including the Hazardous Substance Database (HSDB), Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), Chemical carcinogen Research Information System (CCRIS), Toxicology Literature search (TOXLINE), Data on mutagenicity studies (GENE-TOX) Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity/Environmental Teratology Information Center (DART/ETIC), Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), ChemIDPlus - a dictionary of 370,000 chemicals, structures and chemical properties)

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Online. (Accessed 04 April 2007). IARC posts monographs that evaluate the potential carcinogenicity of environmentally relevant chemicals. National health agencies use this information as scientific support for their actions to prevent exposure to potential carcinogens.


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