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Our Approach To Risk Assessment

NICNAS conducts chemical risk assessment according to the type of chemical notification received. For a chemical already in use in Australia, a quantitative risk assessment measures the risk posed by the chemical, while for a new chemical, a qualitative assessment describes the risk.

 

Risk assessment, as applied to chemicals generally, is decision-making, taking into account:

  • Hazard assessment;

  • The establishment of dose-response relationships;

  • Exposure assessment; and

  • Risk management.

Types of assessment methodology

NICNAS assessment reports include:

  • Toxicity assessment;

  • Environmental assessment;

  • OHS assessment; and

  • Public health assessment.

Risk concepts and terms
Risk The probability or likelihood of harm and the likely extent of the harm.
 
Hazard The intrinsic property of a substance to cause harm
 
Risk assessment Is a process involving these steps:

 
  • Hazard identification

Determines whether a substance (at any dose) can cause an increase in the incidence of adverse effects and the qualitative evaluation of the adverse effects induced.
 
  • Hazard characterisation
Evaluates the dose-response relationship for each of the adverse effects caused by the substance. This is the relationship between the dose of a substance and the incidence or probability of a specific adverse effect.
 
  • Exposure assessment
Is an evaluation of exposure to a chemical in the environment. The exposure may be orally, by inhalation or through the skin, or any combination of these.
 
  • Risk characterisation
Interprets and integrates the information from the previous steps to provide a practical estimate of risk and to identify any limitations and uncertainties of this estimate.
 
Risk management Involves integrating the risk assessment results with economic and social factors to identify strategies to minimise or eliminate the identified risk. These strategies are decided after consideration of all available options. Risk management also involves monitoring, evaluating and reviewing the strategies implemented.

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