Expert Report

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

The availability of tools to assess human health risks from chemical exposures have increased rapidly in the 21st century. For example, new personal sensors and sampling techniques offer unparalleled opportunities to characterize individual exposures, new in vitro assays can now evaluate a number of cellular processes and responses, and -omics technologies have advanced molecular epidemiology, which focuses on underlying biology rather than empirical observations alone. Over the last decade, several large-scale US and international programs and collaborations have been initiated, and data are being generated from government, industry, and academic laboratories at an overwhelming pace. This report discusses how data from the various emerging techniques can be integrated into and used to improve risk-related evaluations that support decision-making.

The report identifies a number of activities and associated decision-making contexts that could benefit from the incorporation of 21st century science. They include setting priorities for testing chemicals; assessing chemical toxicity, exposure, and risk; understanding risks associated with a hazardous waste site or a chemical spill; and evaluating new chemicals that have no data to assess them. Because 21st century science produces diverse, complex, and potentially very large datasets, approaches will be needed to analyze and integrate different data streams, and the report provides a research agenda for tackling some of the challenges. The report emphasizes that although there are many challenges, 21st century science holds great promise for advancing risk assessment and ultimately improving public health and the environment.

Link to the webcast can be found here