The EPA evaluates chemical carcinogenicity using data from many types of studies.
For many chemicals, however, no human data are available, so we must rely on data from laboratory and animal studies. Information on the species of laboratory animal tested, and the tumor types observed, provides some information about the extent to which the chemical may be carcinogenic. This information is just part of the total information EPA uses to estimate cancer risk. Other information from human studies and laboratory analyses is not currently available from EPA for use in the Turf Pesticides and Cancer Risk database.
EPA's cancer risk classification systems and categories
In classifying the cancer risk of a particular chemical, EPA uses a combination of all of these types of evidence to arrive at a cancer risk category. EPA's cancer risk assessment methods have changed over the years to accommodate new scientific understanding. As a result, the four EPA cancer risk classification systems cannot be combined or used interchangeably due to the different methods used.
Cancer risk categories do not apply directly to pesticide products. Rather, cancer risk information pertaining to the product's active ingredient(s) can be used in combination with other information to estimate potential risk.
Using RED documents and other pesticide review information
Re-registration Eligibility Decision, or 'RED', documents are risk assessment reports done by EPA to determine whether or not to continue the registration of older pesticide products. Older pesticides (those first registered before 1984) must be re-evaluated by EPA to ensure that they meet current health and safety standards. RED documents are publicly available and are included in the Turf Pesticides and Cancer Risk database, providing valuable health risk information. There are many pesticides in need of re-evaluation, and not all can be done at once. The re-registration process will take years to complete. Those older pesticides whose uses include food crops have been given priority in this process.
Review of all pesticides is now done as part of the EPA's Registration Review process. This process, which took effect October 10, 2006, was established to ensure that all pesticides distributed and sold in the U.S. (not just older pesticides or those used on food crops) will be re-evaluated on a periodic basis to ensure they meet current health and safety standards. For more information, see Pesticide Registration. As pesticides are reviewed as part of this process, risk information will be added to the Turf Pesticides and Cancer Risk Database as it becomes available.