Inventory Multi-tiered Assessment and Prioritisation (IMAP) Framework
NICNAS has developed in consultation with stakeholders and technical experts a science and risk based framework for the assessment and prioritisation of chemicals on the AICS. This inventory multi-tiered assessment and prioritisation (IMAP) framework consists of three tiers of assessment, with the assessment effort increasing with each tier, as illustrated in Figure 1 and described in more detail in the Inventory Multi-tiered Assessment and Prioritisation (IMAP) Framework and supporting documents.
Figure 1: IMAP Framework (click for full diagram)
In developing the IMAP framework NICNAS explored the availability and utility of tools, criteria and assessment approaches developed internationally with a focus on Canada, the USA, Europe and international agencies such as Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Health Organisation.
The framework aims to resolve the main issues raised by stakeholders, including the difficulties indicated by industry to provide exposure information, the desirability of reducing duplication of efforts through using information generated overseas and achieving assessment outcomes early in the program.
Key features of the framework are:
Scientifically robust risk based approach
The framework uses simple and transparent criteria to determine the potential exposure and risks from chemicals to human health and the environment. The framework also allows for expert judgement (e.g. peer review) to be applied where appropriate.
Achieving assessment outcomes early in the framework
This approach takes into account advice and requests from stakeholders, including industry and the community, to produce assessment outcomes early in the program and for each tier (see Figure 1). The effort and resources that will be used should match the potential risk of the chemical. At each successive tier, the comprehensiveness (and hence resource intensiveness) of the assessments increases, while the number of chemicals requiring assessment decreases.
Using overseas data
A number of other countries and international agencies are generating or gathering information about the human health and environmental effects of a broad range of chemicals. To ensure efficiency and reduce duplication of effort, NICNAS will use this information, where appropriate, for the Australian context. To maximise this information, the framework’s human health and environmental scientific criteria are aligned with existing hazard classification frameworks already in use across industry and internationally.
Advancements in assessment methodologies
To ensure best practice in assessing chemicals in Australia, NICNAS will use internationally recognised assessment tools to fill gaps in available data on a number of human health and environmental hazard indicators. Foremost among the tools and approaches to be used will be Quantitative Structure Activity Relationship (QSAR) models or computational models for predicting toxicity and data from suitable analogue (similar) chemicals.
A flexible approach to exposure information (actual, surrogate or default)
The greatest challenge when assessing the risks from existing chemicals on AICS is the NICNAS’s limited information on identity, volume and usage information on the chemicals currently being imported and/or manufactured in Australia. The framework uses surrogate information to estimate exposure, such as from overseas sources, or conservative default values, where actual or surrogate information is not available, in the early stages (Tier I and Tier II assessments).
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