In order to be sold, pesticides must be scientifically evaluated and registered by regulatory authorities. These activities are supported by a rigorous battery of guideline studies and established criteria for the protection of human health and the environment. During the regulatory evaluation process for pesticides, the U.S. EPA considers all available scientific information in developing a comprehensive assessment of potential effects, exposures, and likelihood of adverse effects occurring under conditions of approved use.

Regulatory Science vs. Academic Research

Although EPA also considers the results of academic research studies, these non-guideline efforts often have a very different focus than studies required by EPA for product registration. Thus, they may not be appropriate for use in regulatory decision-making or be able to be used in the same ways that guideline studies are employed. (See table below.)

Primary purpose Inform day-to-day regulatory decision making with the most applicable data Generate interesting knowledge and novel findings, including theories which may require new research and funding
Outcome Regulatory decisions made based on sound science Knowledge, hypotheses for further testing
Quality Standards Conducted according to stringent Good Laboratory Practice guidelines for documentation and quality control Not generally conducted to meet specific standards
Methodology Conducted according to established government testing guidelines and proven protocols Conducted according to non-standard and innovative approaches and newly proposed designs
Information Access Detailed reports submitted to regulatory authorities. Summaries available to the public, and detailed reports available upon request via the Freedom of Information Act. Raw data and supporting materials must be available to the regulatory authorities. Summaries may also be presented at scientific meetings and/or detailed reports published in scientific journals. Summaries presented at scientific meetings and/or detailed reports published in scientific journals. Raw data and supporting materials generally are not freely available, but may be made available upon request based on journal policy.

The pages in this section of the site summarize many of the health issues that have been getting recent media attention and provide resources for further understanding of the studies which support scientific assessments and regulatory decision-making.

Further Resources

Becker, R.A. et al. “Good Laboratory Practices and Safety Assessments.” Environmental Health Perspectives, 2009, Volume 117(11):A482-483.

McCarty, L.S. et al. “Information Quality in Regulatory Decision Making: Peer Review versus Good Laboratory Practice.” Environmental Health Perspectives, 2012, Volume 120(7): 927–934

Barrow, C.S. and Conrad, J.W. “Assessing the Reliability and Credibility of Industry Science and Scientists.” Environmental Health Perspectives, 2006, Volume 114(2): 153–155

Schreider, J. “Enhancing the Credibility of Decisions Based on Scientific Conclusions: Transparency Is Imperative.” Toxicological Sciences, 2010, Volume 116(1):5-7

Felsot, A.S. “Pesticides and Health: Myths vs. Realities”, American Council on Science and Health, 2011.

“Chlorpyrifos Studies: The Debate is in the Details,” Dow AgroSciences (PDF)