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About EPA

About the National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA)

What We Do

EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) is a leader in the science of human health and ecological risk assessment, a process used to determine how pollutants or other stressors may impact human health and the environment. The center occupies a critical position in EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) between researchers in other parts of ORD and outside of EPA who are generating new findings and data and the regulators in EPA’s program and regional offices who must make regulatory, enforcement, and remedial action decisions. 

NCEA addresses the needs of stakeholders by preparing technical reports and assessments that integrate and evaluate the most up-to-date research. These products serve as a major component of the scientific foundation supporting EPA's regulations and policies. NCEA also conducts cutting-edge research to develop innovative quantitative risk assessment methods and tools that:

  • help extrapolate between experimental data and real-world scenarios,
  • improve our understanding of uncertainties, and
  • facilitate careful weighing of evidence.

NCEA is often called upon to help risk assessors evaluate the effects of exposure during natural disasters, man-made events, and other population impact situations. NCEA's work is part of ORD's National Research Programs, including:

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The National Center for Environmental Assessment is divided into four divisions and an immediate office as described in more detail below.

Immediate Office

Location: Arlington, VA

NCEA Center Director: Kenneth Olden

Deputy Director: Mary Ross

Associate Director for Health: Lynn Flowers

Acting Associate Director for Ecology: Jeff Frithsen

Acting Communications Director: Louis D'Amico

What We Do: NCEA’s Immediate Office (IO) of the Director provides overall direction for NCEA’s assessment programs. Additionally, the Human Health Risk Assessment and Global Change assessment programs are managed within the IO.

  • The Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) program provides state-of-the-science, independently peer-reviewed human health assessments for existing chemicals and chemical mixtures that find their way into our air, water, and land. The HHRA program plays a unique role in serving the needs of EPA programs by incorporating, integrating, and coordinating the use of scientific information as a foundation for regulatory decision making. While overall management of the HHRA program is provided within the IO, the assessments and other projects developed under HHRA are conducted throughout NCEA.
  • The Global Change Assessment Group develops assessments and technical reports on global change impacts and adaptation.

See the NCEA Organization Chart for additional IO program details.

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Cincinnati Division

Location: Cincinnati, OH

Acting Director: Annette Gatchett

Acting Deputy Director: Michael Troyer

What We Do:  NCEA’s Cincinnati Division is dedicated to the development and application of methods to assess human health and ecological risks associated with environmental pollutants. Major areas of research (like the development of methods and guidance, and their application to case study assessments) include:

  • mixtures risk assessment,
  • microbial risk assessment,
  • causal relationships in ecological risk assessment, and
  • general scientific assessment support.

In addition, NCEA-Cincinnati performs assessments of the toxicity of individual chemicals and mixture of chemicals for the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program and community based assessments. NCEA-Cincinnati also maintains a Superfund technical support center for human health and an ecology center , called the Ecological Risk Assessment Center, to provide assistance to regional risk assessors and other program offices. See the NCEA Organization Chart for additional NCEA-Cincinnati branch details.

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Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Division

Location: Arlington, VA; and Durham, NC

Division Director: Vincent Cogliano

Deputy Director: Gina Perovich

What We Do:   NCEA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Division focuses on the development of peer reviewed, qualitative and quantitative health hazard and dose-response assessments for environmental pollutants of relevance to EPA’s regulatory mandates. IRIS assessments are widely used by EPA’s programs and regions, as well as by states, international organizations, and the public, to support decision-making and regulatory activities. Today, more than 550 IRIS assessments are available to the public on-line via Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). EPA and the risk assessment/risk management community consider IRIS the premier source of hazard and dose-response information for environmental pollutants. See the NCEA Organization Chart for additional IRIS branch details.

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Research Triangle Park Division

Location: Durham, NC

Director: John Vandenberg

Deputy Director: Debra Walsh

What We Do:   NCEA's Research Triangle Park (NCEA-RTP) Division focus primarily on the development of the integrated science assessments (ISA) for the six criteria air pollutants (carbon monoxide, lead, ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and sulfur) in support of National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) decision-making. The scientific literature for these assessments is captured and stored in the Health and Environmental Research Online (HERO) database. The NCEA-RTP Division also provides:

  • health and ecological assessments of air toxics in support of decision-making on hazardous air pollutants;
  • assessments and scientific assistance on fuels/fuel additives (e.g., MMT, MTBE, etc.) in support of Agency mobile sources rulemaking actions; and
  • risk assessment information and assistance on air pollution problems to EPA Regions, other federal government agencies, state and local authorities, and international agencies.

This Division produced the case studies on nanomaterial in water treatment, in topical sunscreen, and in disinfectant spray. In addition, NCEA-RTP performs assessments on the toxicity of individual chemicals and mixture of chemicals for the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program and provides key scientific assessments and assistance to many EPA programs with regard to lead and other metals. NCEA-RTP also provides training and information to Agency researchers, policy makers, and the public through workshops, public meetings, and publications. See the NCEA Organization Chart for additional NCEA-RTP branch details.

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Washington Division

Location: Arlington, VA

Director:  David Bussard

Deputy Director: Scot Hagerthey

What We Do: NCEA's Washington (NCEA-Wash) Division focuses primarily on:

  • the development and implementation of new methods into site- and chemical-specific assessments (in support of programs like the Causal Analysis/Diagnosis Decision Information System and the Integrated Risk Information System);
  • improving the accuracy of risk characterizations for human health and ecological assessments;
  • integrating quantitative information about human variability and uncertainty into risk assessments;
  • developing advanced pharmacokinetic and mechanistic models;
  • uncovering the molecular mechanisms that lead from exposure to adverse health consequences; improving extrapolations between exposure routes and between species; and
  • providing the guidance, tools, and training to enable other risk assessors to conduct scientifically sound assessments.

This division also produced the

  • Biofuels Report to Congress,
  • Bristol Bay Assessement,
  • Libby asbestos amphibole (IRIS) assessment,
  • conductivity and mountaintop mining reports,
  • underground Karst Terminology materials.

Finally, the division provides exposure assessment assistance during events like the attack on the World Trade Center during September 11, 2001, Hurricane Katrina, and the BP oil spill. See the NCEA Organization Chart for additional NCEA-Wash branch details.

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