Assessments ask different questions, use different analyses, and logic to deal with cumulative causes and effects. It comes as no surprise, then, that there are different kinds of assessments. We proposed that there are four general types of environmental assessments: (1) condition assessments to detect chemical, physical, and biological impairments; (2) causal pathway assessments to determine causes and identify their sources; (3) predictive assessments to estimate environmental, economic, and societal risks, and benefits associated with different possible management actions; and (4) outcome assessments to evaluate the results of the decisions of an integrative assessment. The four types of assessments can be neatly arrayed in a two-by-two matrix based on the direction of analysis of causal relationships (rows) and whether the assessment identifies problems or solves them (columns). We suggest that all assessments have a common structure of planning, analysis, and synthesis, thus simplifying terminology and facilitating communication between types of assessments and environmental programs. The linkage between assessments is based on intermediate decisions that initiate another assessment or a final decision signaling the resolution of the problem. An integrated assessment will be illustrated with emphasis on The Causal Analysis Diagnosis/Decision Information System (CADDIS) which guides causal inferences for specific cases, that is to answer the question, "which cause led to this effect?"
ORD and EPA's Regions are sponsoring this series of publicly accessible seminars as a forum for discussing the current state of the art and practice of Cumulative Risk Assessment (CRA). These seminars will provide information regarding guidance, resources, and recommendations for real world CRA for regulatory and non-regulatory applications. This seminar series is, in part, preparation for the EPA ORD/Regional Workshop on CRA being hosted by Region 5 in Chicago, IL for July 28-30, 2009. The seminar series is publicly open in support of advancing CRA while the workshop will primarily be internal to EPA to enhance policy and other deliberative discussions.