National Institute for Environmental Studies
Center for Health and Environmental Risk Research

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Risk Assessment Science Collaboration Office

The Risk Assessment Science Collaboration Office provides domestic leadership for the promotion of regulatory science with the aim of achieving a safe and secure society. The office conducts ecological toxicity research, promotes international collaboration for the development of advanced testing methods, supports the standardization of test implementation, promotes infrastructure development, and conducts other efforts to support regulatory policies and measures. The office also assesses environmental risks scientifically under the collaboration with other organizations, constructing databases, and disseminating knowledge and technical methodologies. The office focuses on implementing research projects to provide the latest research outcomes that can be used as the basis for new regulatory policy measures.

Ecotoxicity Reference Laboratory

The Ecotoxicity Reference Laboratory contributes to the realization of a safe society by proactively promoting regulatory science as a leading “reference laboratory for ecotoxicological research”. To this end, the laboratory conducts ecotoxicological research to contribute administrative chemical management system such as the Chemical Substances Control Law or Agricultural Chemicals Regulation Law, develops new ecotoxicity test methods through collaboration with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the US Environmental Protection Agency, participates as the Japanese representative in international ring tests, supports the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and OECD for the standardization of test methods, supplies stable test organisms for ecotoxicity testing, and conducts education seminars on ecotoxicity test techniques. In collaboration with domestic universities and local environmental laboratories, the laboratory also promotes ecotoxicity testing and performs scientific risk assessment. The laboratory provides the latest research results to domestic and international institutions, and conducts fundamental research for the development of more effective administrative measures to regulate environmental risk of chemicals.
Ecotoxicity Reference Laboratory

Environmental Risk Assessment Task Office

Environmental Risk Assessment Task Office

The Environmental Risk Assessment Task Office promotes research to support the assessment and management of the risks posed by environmental chemical substances, provides risk-related information to the government and public, and conducts scientific risk assessments with the knowledge and experience it accumulates. The office also collects a variety of information on environmental chemicals (e.g., physico-chemical properties, toxicity) and assesses their risks through methodologies that range from simple screening to detailed assessment to support the risk assessment conducted under the laws enacted by the Ministry of the Environment.

Under the Act on the Evaluation of Chemical Substances and Regulation of Their Manufacture, etc. (Chemical Substances Control Law), which mandates the pre-production evaluation of new chemical substances, three ministries—Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare; and Ministry of the Environment—conduct risk assessments of chemical substances for their continuous management after going to market. The office supports this with step-wise risk assessments, that is, screening assessment followed by detailed assessment for Priority Assessment Chemical Substances. The office also studies the prediction of ecological toxicity by using quantitative structure–activity relationship models and organizes the annual Chemical Substances Control Law seminar as a platform to disseminate information to help manufacturers understand the laws concerning the production and distribution of chemical substances. In addition, the office performs initial risk assessments for chemical substances in the environment and publishes the assessment results of health and ecological risks associated with these substances as an evaluation document titled Environmental Risk Assessment of Chemicals.

To ensure water quality and protect aquatic life, the office supports the setting of environmental quality standards for water pollution and the registration of withholding standards for agricultural chemicals based on the Basic Environment Law and Agricultural Chemicals Regulation Law, respectively; and to ensure air quality, it oversees the revision of domestic guidelines stipulating the guideline values for hazardous air pollutants. Through these activities, the office contributes to the management of the risks posed by environmental chemicals.

The office also administers several web-based databases such as the chemical database WebKis-Plus and the environmental measurement methods database EnvMethod. These databases are updated annually with risk-related information regarding the latest laws and regulations including environmental standards, the volumes of the manufacturing or import of chemical substances and the shipment of agricultural chemicals, information obtained from environmental monitoring, risk assessment results and risk analysis procedures, and research outcomes from the Center of Health and Environmental Risk Research.

Japan Environment and Children's Study Programme Office

The Japan Environment and Children’s Study (JECS) is a nationwide birth cohort study that is being conducted by the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) to identify environmental factors that affect the health and development of children. JECS is conducted in collaboration with the National Center for Child Health and Development, which serves as the Medical Support Center and contributes medical expertise to the study, as well as with 15 Regional Centers based at universities and research institutes throughout Japan. The Programme Office provides core administrative and technical support for the Regional Centers, which recruit participants and collect study data from their geographical area.

Recruitment of pregnant women to the study began in 2011, and by the end of 2014 more than 100,000 mother–child pairs had been recruited. The Regional Centers are responsible for collecting data starting from conception and will follow the children until they are 13 years of age. In the main study, biannual questionnaires are used to collect information on the participants, such as their health and development, and the environmental factors to which they are exposed. A sub-cohort study will involve 5,000 children randomly selected from the main cohort, and more in-depth measurement methods such as home visits, ambient air measurements, psycho-developmental tests, and pediatrician examinations will be used to more thoroughly investigate the correlations between environmental factors and outcome variables.

To ensure that the correct data is collected and analyses are conducted in accordance with the study protocols, the Programme Office is responsible for developing standard operation procedures, centralizing the data collected by the Regional Centers, administering the data management system, maintaining the repository of biological and environmental samples, and performing exposure measurements. The Programme Office is also responsible for risk management and participant retention. In addition, the Programme Office takes a leadership role in facilitating collaboration among the domestic and international research groups involved in the environmental birth-cohort study and provides a platform for the efficient exchange of information among the various research groups involved.

Japan Environment and Children's Study Programme Office