A critical review of frameworks used for evaluating reliability and relevance of (eco)toxicity data: Perspectives for an integrated eco-human decision-making framework

Environ Int. 2016 Oct:95:16-29. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2016.07.011. Epub 2016 Jul 29.


Considerable efforts have been invested so far to evaluate and rank the quality and relevance of (eco)toxicity data for their use in regulatory risk assessment to assess chemical hazards. Many frameworks have been developed to improve robustness and transparency in the evaluation of reliability and relevance of individual tests, but these frameworks typically focus on either environmental risk assessment (ERA) or human health risk assessment (HHRA), and there is little cross talk between them. There is a need to develop a common approach that would support a more consistent, transparent and robust evaluation and weighting of the evidence across ERA and HHRA. This paper explores the applicability of existing Data Quality Assessment (DQA) frameworks for integrating environmental toxicity hazard data into human health assessments and vice versa. We performed a comparative analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of eleven frameworks for evaluating reliability and/or relevance of toxicity and ecotoxicity hazard data. We found that a frequent shortcoming is the lack of a clear separation between reliability and relevance criteria. A further gaps and needs analysis revealed that none of the reviewed frameworks satisfy the needs of a common eco-human DQA system. Based on our analysis, some key characteristics, perspectives and recommendations are identified and discussed for building a common DQA system as part of a future integrated eco-human decision-making framework. This work lays the basis for developing a common DQA system to support the further development and promotion of Integrated Risk Assessment.

Keywords: Data evaluation; Integrated hazard assessment; Integrated risk assessment; Quality assessment; Relevance; Reliability.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Data Accuracy*
  • Decision Making
  • Environment
  • Forecasting
  • Hazardous Substances / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Toxicity Tests*


  • Hazardous Substances