[sc:date]Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released tons of new data found in roughly 1,800 chemicals. These chemicals are used in everything from processed foods to laundry detergents, skincare products, and even over-the-counter drugs. The EPA’s goal in screening the 1,800 everyday consumer chemicals is to predict health concerns and risks associated with common household products.
“EPA’s use of cost effective advanced chemical screening techniques has transformed this country’s knowledge of the safety of almost 2,000 chemicals currently in use. Today’s release marks an important milestone in communicating and improving our understanding of the impact chemicals have on human health and the environment,” said EPA Office of Research and Development assistant administrator Lek Kadeli.
The EPA used robotics screening technology to test and gauge the 1,800 chemicals listed in their report. Tox21 is the codename given to the robotics technology used by the EPA, National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences/National Toxicology Program, National Institutes of Health, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and the FDA.
Thankfully, they identified just a fraction of the chemicals as “high risk” for illness and/or health concerns. Even with just a fraction of the chemicals found to be dangerous, however, the EPA’s testing could prove to be a real life-saver. It’s not something most consumers want to think about, but very few products are inspected for safety before being released into the market. It’s usually not until class action lawsuits arise that a company begins to cease production on a their product(s) containing harmful chemicals or ingredients.
So, how did the EPA use this information to predict health problems associated with nearly 2,000 chemicals? They actually took an innovative approach to this large-scale operation by releasing a challenge to the science and tech community. This challenge, known as the ToxCast Data Challenge, allows organizations, companies and individuals in the science community to freely access this EPA’s data to identify possible health concerns.
You can read more about the ToxCast Data Challenges by clicking here.
This isn’t the first time the EPA has invited outside science and technology organizations to utilize their data, and it probably won’t be the last. While the EPA is a massive federal body with nearly 17,000 employees working throughout the country, they simply don’t have the manpower or resources necessary to screen and analyze data on every chemical. In an effort to take some of the burden off their shoulders, the EPA frequently runs challenges like the ToxCast Data Challenge mentioned above.