TCEQ recognized for chemical risk assessment methods

It’s not every day that a state agency is recognized by a renowned international health organization, but that’s what happened recently when the WHO gave a shout-out to TCEQ for its leadership in review methods used in chemical risk assessments.

In a summary of global initiatives that employ systematic review of data in the formation of chemical risk assessments, the World Health Organization singled out TCEQ as the only U.S. state to feature the review process when setting toxicity factors for various chemicals and compounds.

Senior toxicologist Dr. Jessica Myers has been at the forefront of TCEQ’s use of systematic review when estimating a range of chemical-specific toxicity factors. She co-authored agency guidelines, in place since 2017, that are used during the development of toxicity factors, in which in turn are used by several TCEQ divisions, including air monitoring, permitting, and remediation.

While some governmental agencies employ systematic review in their evaluations, including the National Toxicology Program, the European Food Safety Agency, as well as the WHO itself, Texas is the only U.S. state agency that has followed suit thus far.

“We’re ahead of the curve,” she says.

In essence, the systematic review process is all about “thoroughly and transparently” reviewing all the data associated with the development of toxicity factors, she notes.

By carefully selecting and analyzing peer-reviewed studies, TCEQ establishes its own toxicity values that are protective of human health, Myers adds.

TCEQ follows numerous standard procedures when deriving toxicity factors, including the solicitation of relevant information from outside parties that may be useful for our review, as well as requesting feedback on draft assessments.

“Ultimately, the systematic review process will provide the public greater transparency in how we develop toxicity factors,” Myers observes.

“We’re leading the way.”

Image courtesy of World Health Organization
Jessica Myers, Senior Toxicologist and Risk Assessor

Dr. Jessica L. Myers is a senior toxicologist and risk assessor at TCEQ. During her 8+ years with the agency, she has conducted multiple human health risk assessments and developed toxicity values for numerous chemicals. Dr. Myers has served as a peer reviewer on several prominent national studies, including the World Health Organization’s Framework for the Use of Systematic Review in Chemical Risk Assessment.