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Risk assessment is a science-based approach that can be used to quantify and describe risks to human health from chemical exposures. It is used around the world to support risk management decisions. For example, many Canadian quality standards and guidelines for drinking water, air, food, soil and consumer products are based on a foundation of risk assessment.
The risk assessment process involves four main steps:
1. Problem Formulation: Describe the hazard (chemicals), identify who is exposed (receptors), and how receptors can come in contact with the hazard.
2. Toxicity Assessment: Describe the harmful effects of the chemicals under expected conditions of exposure; describe the dose–response relationship.
3. Exposure Assessment: Quantify exposure (who, how, how much, how often, how long, etc.)
4. Risk Characterization: Describe the risk (nature and likelihood of adverse effects), place risk in context, describe magnitude and direction of uncertainty in risk estimates
A variety of input data, assumptions and models are required at every step in the process. This presentation describes the risk assessment framework in detail, looking at the sources of the most commonly used types of hazard and exposure information. The presentation will also examine the differences between risk assessment and
risk management, and the specific role of risk assessment in informing risk management decisions.
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies or views of Public Health Ontario, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by Public Health Ontario.
Speaker: Dr. Ronald Brecher
Dr. Ronald Brecher has 27 years’ experience as a consultant in toxicology, risk assessment, and risk communication. He has provided advice and training across the country for hundreds of government and private sector clients, and has served on expert panels and advisory committees in Canada and the US. He is an adjunct professor in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph and is currently a senior scientist in Public Health Toxicology & Risk Communication in the Environmental and Occupational Health team at Public Health Ontario.
Ron holds a bachelor of science in biochemistry from Carleton University and a doctorate from the University of Sussex. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology and holds the Ontario designations C.Chem (Chartered Chemist) and QPRA (Qualified Person for Risk Assessment).
Public Health Ontario Rounds are approved for continuing medical education from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.
PHO Rounds are also approved by Council of Professional Experience for professional development hours (PDHs) for members of the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (CIPHI).
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