TERA Builds Partnerships
In fulfilling its mission to protect public health, TERA builds partnerships between industry and government to incorporate the best science in the development of risk assessment values and methods. Such partnerships provide the opportunity to leverage the scarce government funds that are available to keep up with the growing number of studies and improvements in risk methods. For example, it would take over 20 years in order to provide only one update to the over 500 chemicals on IRIS, given the current rate of reevaluations by the IRIS program. Involving scientists who are not government employees or government contractors in assessments can take advantage of expert knowledge on the individual chemical; outside scientists may also be given more time to fully explore all technical issues.
TERA fosters partnerships in a number of ways:
- We can bring together two or more groups interested in a specific chemical, and provide informed and neutral guidance and advice.
- To an existing process we can provide ongoing neutral technical facilitation and oversight as needed.
- We can work with EPA to facilitate its review of an assessment prepared by us for an industry organization. This may result in EPA putting the chemical on its IRIS list, or even in EPA jointly sponsoring a portion of the assessment.
-TERA's ITER Peer Review Program provides an avenue for independent assessments to undergo rigorous review by a panel experts in risk assessment and other relevant fields from government, industry, and academia. After approval by the panel, these values are made widely available to the public at http://www.tera.org/iter/.
Examples of TERA partnerships
Alliance for Risk Assessment. The Alliance for Risk Assessment (ARA) is a collaborative effort of organizations dedicated to supporting public health protection by improving the process and efficiency of risk assessment, and increasing the capacity for developing risk information to meet growing demand. The ARA provides a unique venue for governmental, industrial, environmental, and non-profit organizations to collaborate to produce high quality risk assessment science.
Soluble Nickel Salts. In an excellent example of the sorts of partnerships that TERA likes to build, TERA developed an IRIS Toxicological Review of soluble nickel salts in a project jointly funded by the Metal Finishing Association of Southern California (MFASC), U.S. EPA, and Health Canada
Perchlorate. In association with the U.S. Air Force, U.S. EPA, the Perchlorate Study Group, and others, TERA has helped develop protocols for several studies on perchlorate that will fill in data gaps that currently exist in the database. TERA has also acted as an independent study monitor for a number of these studies.
Comparative Dietary Risk. This project was a cooperative agreement sponsored by EPA's Office of Water. TERA put together an multi-disciplinary team and developed a framework for comparing the possible health risks of consuming contaminated fish and the potential health benefits lost by not eating fish. Outside collaborators from a variety of subject areas contributed to the report, including nutritional science, risk communication, statistical modelers, environmental anthropology, epidemiology and medicine. An advisory panel to the project included state health officials, state and tribal fish consumption advisory staff, EPA and FDA risk assessors and managers, public interest groups, and industry.
Copper. TERA helped the International Copper Association in the coordination and oversight of two human studies to identify an acute nausea threshold for copper in drinking water. TERA has identified four research institutions of excellence in the U.S., Ireland, Argentina, and China, and has written two research protocols to attempt to provide a dose response in humans that shows a threshold for bolus ingestion of copper in drinking water.
Formaldehyde. This project was a collaborative effort with CIIT (Chemical Industry Institute of Technology), a non-profit research organization. The first draft of the cancer assessment was completed in 1997. CIIT and TERA made several presentations on this research, including talks at the American College of Toxicology meeting (November 1997) and the annual meeting of the Society for Risk Analysis (December 1997) and the Society of Toxicology on numerous occasions. A revised draft of the cancer risk assessment, prepared primarily by CIIT, was peer reviewed by Health Canada and the U.S. EPA in March of 1998. This text was revised and finalized by CIIT during the fall of 1999. U.S. EPA is in the process of integrating the noncancer toxicity of formaldehyde into the cancer findings. This integration is expected to be completed sometime in 2000. TERA's effort was sponsored by the Formaldehyde Epidemiology, Toxicology and Exposure Group, an industry trade group. For more information, call Dr. Michael Dourson at 513-542-7475, extension 14 or Dourson@tera.org.