Assessment of PCB Congener Analytical Methods: Do They Meet Risk Assessment Needs?
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Congener-specific PCB analysis allows use of toxic equivalency (TEQ) TCDD-based risk assessment approaches when analytical methods are sufficiently sensitive. Many efforts to analyze fish samples for PCB congeners report the majority of samples as non-detects; these data are of little use for human health risk assessment if the limits of analytical detection exceed levels of potential health concern. However, increasing analytical sensitivity is costly and technically difficult. An approach to assess analytical sensitivity needs for risk assessment by defining toxicological endpoints of concern and acceptable risk levels is presented. This framework was applied to assessment of potential PCB TEQ cancer risks to the general United States population and tribal consumers of Columbia River fish, but may be easily adjusted for other situations. A probabilistic model was used to calculate the necessary analytical sensitivity for PCB TEQ cancer risk assessment using the Environmental Protection Agency's new draft cancer risk slope factor for TCDD and fish consumption data. Desired levels of analytical sensitivity were estimated for the congener expected to contribute the most to PCB TEQ, PCB 126, and compared to limits of detection for various analytical methods. The financial and health value of methods with different levels of analytical sensitivity were compared using a value of information approach, which includes analytical cost and cost of potential health outcomes, and a proposed risk assessment utility approach which considers the relative health protectiveness of analytical options non-monetarily. Sensitivity analyses indicate that average consumption rate, cancer risk slope factor choice, and knowledge of existing PCB contamination are important considerations for planning PCB congener analysis.
KeywordsRisk Assessment TCDD Cancer Risk Assessment Human Health Risk Assessment Acceptable Risk Level
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