Alternative Risk Assessment Methodology

What is this project and why are we doing it?

MDH uses an established risk assessment methodology to estimate health risks from chemicals. However, sometimes there is not enough information about a chemical to use this methodology. Therefore, MDH hired a contractor to research alternative risk assessment methods in order to estimate health risks when limited information is available. This project will:

  • Identify, describe, critique, and test alternative risk assessment methods.
  • Develop recommendations on evaluating life-stage sensitivity, susceptible populations, uncertainties and gaps in available data, and health risks from chemical mixtures.
  • Develop a process to provide health guidance to the public and regulators for chemicals with limited data.
  • Advance scientific and policy discussions regarding alternative risk assessment methods for chemicals with limited data.
  • Expand the number of available risk assessment methods for evaluating potential human health risks from contaminants in drinking water.
  • Educate staff so that they can appropriately select and use a variety of alternative risk assessment methods for a wide range of chemicals.

  • What are some key outcomes?

    The final draft report for the first phase of the project was submitted in July 2012. The final draft report includes a description of ten alternative methods and an analysis of their suitability for use by MDH as interpreted by MDH’s contractor for this work. This final draft report was not prepared by MDH staff, however, MDH staff made limited revisions for the sake of clarity, correction, or formatting. The final draft report does not represent official agency policy. An Executive Summary [PDF: 210KB/17 pages] of the final draft report is available. The full final draft report (2,565 KB/251 pages), including all figures and tables, is available upon request by emailing

    How will MDH use this information?

    MDH staff have used the draft report to start work on a second project. The new project will help MDH decide how to use alternative methods. MDH will have a contractor use the different methods to generate risk advice for specific substances (including CEC chemicals) and compare and evaluate the results. For example, it may be possible to generate and compare different water concentrations from knowing just the structure of the chemical, the toxicity of closely related chemicals, or the toxicity of larger sets of unrelated chemicals.

Updated Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 07:50AM