• Using the Matrix to bridge the epidemiology/risk assessment gap: a case study of 2,4-D

      Burns, Carol J; LaKind, Judy S (Taylor and Francis Inc., 2021-11-19)
      Background: The Matrix is designed to facilitate discussions between practitioners of risk assessment and epidemiology and, in so doing, to enhance the utility of epidemiology research for public health decision-making. The Matrix is comprised of nine fundamental “asks” of epidemiology studies, focusing on the types of information valuable to the risk assessment process. Objective: A 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) case study highlights the extent to which existing epidemiology literature includes information generally needed for risk assessments and proffers suggestions that would assist in bridging the epidemiology/risk assessment gap. Methods: Thirty-one publications identified in the US Environmental Protection Agency 2,4-D epidemiology review were assessed. These studies focused on associations between 2,4-D exposure and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), respiratory effects, and birth outcomes. Results: Many of the papers met one or more specific elements of the Matrix. However, from this case study, it is clear that some aspects of risk assessment, such as evaluating source-to-intake pathways, are generally not considered in epidemiology research. Others are incorporated, but infrequently (e.g. dose-response information, harmonization of exposure categories). We indicated where additional analyses or modifications to future study design could serve to improve the translation. Discussion: Interaction with risk assessors during the study design phase and using the Matrix “asks” to guide the conversations could shape research and provide the basis for requests for funds to support these additional activities. The use of the Matrix as a foundation for communication and education across disciplines could produce more impactful and consequential epidemiology research for robust risk assessments and decision-making. © 2021 The Author(s).