Assessing Human Health Risk

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Risk assessment is a process designed to answer questions about how toxic a chemical is, what exposure results from its various uses, what is the likelihood that use will cause harm, and how to characterize that risk. Risk assessment plays a critical role in the California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s (DPR) evaluation of the potential human health hazards associated with pesticide exposure. DPR's comprehensive approach assesses potential dietary (food and drinking water), workplace, residential, and ambient air exposures

Risk assessment is often the driving force behind new regulations and other use restrictions. DPR’s Medical Toxicology Branch manages the risk assessment process, with exposure assessments developed by Worker Health and Safety Branch, environmental fate reviews by Environmental Monitoring Branch, and supporting information from other branches. DPR initiates risk assessments for a number of reasons, focusing on pesticides that pose the greatest potential risk. For example, the identification of possible adverse health effects during review of toxicology data may trigger a risk assessment. Similarly, DPR may initiate a risk assessment when use of a pesticide can result in ambient air exposures of concern. Once the risk has been fully characterized, regulators develop a strategy for responding to that risk. This is called risk management, and is separate from risk assessment.

General information about the risk assessment process

Setting priorities and initiating risk assessments

Risk assessment components and documents

For content questions, contact:
Gary Patterson, Supervising Toxicologist
1001 I Street, P.O. Box 4015
Sacramento, California 95812-4015
Phone: (916) 445-4233