Drs. Omobola Mudasiru (American Petroleum Institute), Dana Sargent (CropLife International), and Sandrine Deglin (HESI) presented ongoing efforts from their respective organizations to increase the impact of epidemiology in the field of risk assessment. This joint presentation was followed by a Q&A session.
Epidemiologic research provides valuable information for assessing relationships between environmental exposures and health outcomes. In addition, risk assessments benefit from having a wide array of information deriving from various areas of study, including epidemiology. Despite the recognition that epidemiology and risk assessment are intertwined and essential components of public health decision-making (e.g., the National Ambient Air Quality Standards process), practitioners of the two disciplines have very different training and skills. the need for improved communication across the disciplines has been noted. This need led the development of a communication approach called the Matrix, which includes key risk assessor "asks" and is designed to enhance understanding and communication between the disciplines. This webinar will provide an overview of the Matrix background and approach.
Under the auspices of several CropLife organizations (CLI, CLA, & CLE), projects have been initiated to develop approaches and methodologies that look to enhance the interpretation and integration of epidemiological data into the regulatory evaluation process for plant protection products. The most advanced project, supported by CropLife Europe, is IMPRESS (Improving exposure assessment methodologies for epidemiological studies on pesticides). This project is managed by the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) with research collaboration from the UK Health & Safety Laboratory, University of Manchester and Utrecht University. The aims of this project are to investigate the performance of exposure assessment methods (EAMs) used in epidemiology studies; and to assess reliability and external validity of surrogate measures used to assign exposure within individuals and groups, and evaluate size effects of recall bias on misclassification. The second project is a collaboration of experts within the CLI, CLA and CLE epidemiology work groups. This project will focus on two areas: 1) new exposure assessment methods (NAMs) and 2) weight of evidence. For the NAMs project, experts will build on the analysis and recommendations from the CLE IMPRESS project, and look at evolving assessment methods and other available data that could enhance and contextualize exposure characterization in epidemiology studies. The weight of evidence workstream will use available regulatory frameworks/guidelines related to epidemiological data integration and standards (e.g. EPA, EFSA, and ISPE, ENCePP and GRADE), and using several case studies, assess the best approaches to incorporating animal and epidemiological data in a weight of evidence for regulatory purposes.
In Fall 2017, the Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (HESI) launched a Committee with the mission to help realize the full potential of epidemiological data in risk assessment and regulatory decision making. In the first phase of the work, the Committee organized four focus groups whose goals were to 1) foster dialogue among epidemiologists, risk assessors, exposure scientists, statisticians, and other experts; 2) identify barriers to the optimal integration of epidemiological data into quantitative risk assessment; and 3) propose consensus solutions for a positive impact in this space. A fifth focus group was organized with funding agencies to discuss their role in the way epidemiological data are collected, reported, and used. These interactive meetings helped identify different areas of focus, where improvements could be made to ultimately make epidemiology more impactful in the field of risk assessment. Salient issues and the lessons learned from these focus groups will be presented on this webinar, as well as some recommendations to increase the relevance of epidemiological data to quantitative risk assessment, and how the Committee plans on addressing the issue in the second phase of this project.