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EPA Launches Toxicity and Exposure Databases

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched two databases that it says will improve decisions about chemical safety, including at the agency itself.

The two public sites, the Toxicity Forecaster database (ToxCastDB) and a database of chemical exposure studies (ExpoCastDB), will be connected through EPA’s Aggregated Computational Toxicology Resource (ACToR), an online data warehouse that collects data on over 500,000 chemicals from over 500 public sources.

The connection is important, the EPA says, because both exposure data and toxicity data are required when considering potential risks posed by chemicals, and the link will better inform the agency’s own decisions about chemical safety.

“Chemical safety is a major priority of EPA and its research,” said Dr. Paul Anastas, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “These databases provide the public access to chemical information, data and results that we can use to make better-informed and timelier decisions about chemicals to better protect people’s health.”

Users of ToxCastDB can search and download data from over 500 rapid chemical tests conducted on more than 300 environmental chemicals. ToxCast predicts the potential toxicity of chemicals and, the EPA says, provides a cost-effective approach to prioritizing which chemicals of the thousands in use require further testing.

Staff working on the database are currently screening 700 additional chemicals, and the data for those substances will be available in 2012.

ExpoCastDB consolidates human exposure data from chemical measurements conducted in homes and child care centers. Data include the amounts of chemicals found in food, drinking water, air, dust, indoor surfaces and urine. ExpoCastDB users can obtain summary statistics of exposure data and download datasets.

The EPA says it will continue to add internal and external chemical exposure data and advanced user interface features to ExpoCastDB.

ACToR users can now access 30 years worth of animal chemical toxicity studies that were previously only found in paper documents, the EPA says, as well as data from rapid chemical testing and exposure measurements, all through one portal.

Last week the EPA made public the identities of more than 150 chemicals contained in 104 health and safety studies that had been claimed confidential by industry.

In addition to these actions, EPA recently provided the public with free access to the consolidated TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act) Inventory on the EPA and Data.Gov websites. And n December 22, 2010, EPA publicly launched the Chemical Data Access Tool, which allows users to find health and safety data that has been submitted to the agency.

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