On June 1, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the release of its draft Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) health assessment for ammonia. The draft assessment was available for public comment for 60 days and will be sent for independent expert peer review.

The draft assessment includes an estimate of the amount of ammonia a person can inhale daily throughout a lifetime that is not likely to cause harmful health effects, which is less stringent than the current value for ammonia on IRIS.

The draft IRIS assessment is part of EPA’s effort to implement the April 2011 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recommendations for improving IRIS assessments. According to the EPA, “The draft assessment uses a new streamlined document structure that is more transparent and clear; includes a template for describing the literature search approach; identifies the strengths and weaknesses of analyzed studies; and describes how EPA applied their guidance, methods, and criteria in developing the assessment.”

In commenting on the EPA project, Bruce Badger, president of the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration, said, “Ammonia is extremely energy efficient, environmentally benign, and safe because it is detectable at very low concentrations. We’re pleased to see that the EPA continues to recognize the inherent safety of ammonia as it works to update the Integrated Risk Information System health assessment.”

For more information, go to www.epa.gov/iris.

Publication date: 7/30/2012