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Environmental Chemicals, the Human Microbiome, and Health Risk: A Research Strategy

Research indicates the important role that the human microbiome plays in human health and raises the question of whether some consideration needs to be incorporated into risk assessment. Risk assessment is a process that can be used to estimate the human health risk associated with exposure to an environmental chemical. Although risk assessment used in regulatory programs in the United States and globally has been reformed and advanced over the years, the core elements established in the 1980s hazard identification, dose–response assessment, exposure assessment, and risk characterization have remained the same. EPA has developed numerous guidelines for the conduct of risk assessment; the guidelines describe the optimal evaluation and use of data that often are inconsistent, and they indicate proper treatment of uncertainty in extrapolating results from animal or human studies of limited scope to policies designed to protect the general public.

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