Risk characterization

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In the risk characterization step, conclusions about the previous steps of the framework hazard identification, dose response assessment are integrated with those from the exposure assessment. In addition, confidence about these conclusions, including information about the uncertainties associated with the final risk summary, is highlighted.1

How Much is Enough

“The level of detail considered in a risk assessment and included in the risk characterization should be commensurate with the problem’s importance, expected health or environmental impact, expected economic or social impact, urgency, and level of controversy, as well as with the expected impact and cost of protective measures.”2

Besides risk characterization, the other major components of microbial risk assessment are hazard identification, dose response assessment, and exposure assessment.


  1. Habicht II, F. (1992). “Guidance on Risk Characterization for Risk Managers and Risk Assessors”, memorandum to Assistant & Regional Administrators (1992). http://www.epa.gov/oswer/riskassessment/habicht.htm
  2. Presidential/Congressional Commission on Risk Assessment and Risk Management. (1997). Framework for Environmental Health Risk Management. Final Report
  3. Science Policy Council. (1995). Guidance for Risk Characterization. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency http://www.epa.gov/osa/spc/pdfs/rcguide.pdf