Human Health Assessment Branch

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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 Human Health Assessment Branch develops exposure assessments and manages the risk assessment process, using environmental fate reviews by the 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 in a Risk Characterization Document, regulators develop a strategy for responding to that risk. This is called risk management or mitigation, and is separate from risk assessment. Information about risk assessment and mitigation for specific active ingredients can be found on DPR's Human Health Risk Assessment and Mitigation web page.

General information about the risk assessment process

  • Fact Sheet, PDF
  • "Assessing Pesticide Risks to Human Health", PDF (Chapter 5, of A Guide to Pesticide Regulation in California)
  • "Risk Management", PDF (Chapter 6, of A Guide to Pesticide Regulation in California)
  • Review of California's Risk-Assessment Process for Pesticides by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences
    • National Academy of Sciences' Review of California's Risk Assessment Process
    • Evaluation and Implementation of Comments/Recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences Report Entitled "Review of California's Risk Assessment Process for Pesticides

Risk assessment components and documents

For content questions, contact:
Dr. Shelley DuTeaux
Environmental Program Manager II
1001 I Street, P.O. Box 4015
Sacramento, California 95812-4015
Phone: (916) 445-4268