Preventing adverse health effects of environmental chemical exposure is fundamental to protecting individual and public health. When done efficiently and properly, chemical risk assessment enables risk management actions that minimize the incidence and effects of environmentally induced diseases related to chemical exposure. However, traditional chemical risk assessment is faced with multiple challenges with respect to predicting and preventing disease in human populations, and epidemiological studies increasingly report observations of adverse health effects at exposure levels predicted from animal studies to be safe for humans. This discordance reinforces concerns about the adequacy of contemporary risk assessment practices for protecting public health.
It is becoming clear that to protect public health more effectively, future risk assessments will need to use the full range of available data, draw on innovative methods to integrate diverse data streams, and consider health endpoints that also reflect the range of subtle effects and morbidities observed in human populations.
Considering these factors, there is a need to reframe chemical risk assessment to be more clearly aligned with the public health goal of minimizing environmental exposures associated with disease.