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Exposure Scenarios in Toxicology

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Regulatory Toxicology
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Exposure is defined as the “concentration or the amount of a particular agent that reaches a target organism, system, or (sub)population in a specific frequency for a defined duration (WHO/IPCS 2004). Exposure is normally characterized by means of exposure scenarios. The information from the exposure scenario is used for building up an exposure model. Exposure models can be understood as a translation of an exposure scenario to a mathematical algorithm to yield a qualitative and a quantitative estimate of exposure. Exposure can be understood as dose estimation, by the oral, dermal, or inhalation route.

Exposure assessment is based on three basic elements: (i) the exposure scenario, (ii) the exposure model, and (iii) the exposure parameters (WHO/IPCS 2005). The basic characterization of the exposure is made by the exposure scenario (ES). The ES describes the circumstances of the exposure, covering all situations and corresponding information needed to perform an exposure estimate. The WHO (2004) defines the term exposure scenario as “a combination of facts, assumptions, and interferences that define a discrete situation where potential exposures may occur. These may include the source, the exposed population, the time frame of exposure, micoenvironment(s), and the activities. Scenarios are often created to aid exposure assessors in estimating exposure. This definition should be used as a basic concept for exposure estimation.

Since 2006, an additional definition of exposure scenario must be taken into consideration regarding to the European Chemicals Regulation (REACH; European Commisson 2006). In the regulation, the exposure scenario is defined as “…the set of conditions that describe how the substance is manufactured or used during its life-cycle and how the manufacturer or importer controls, or recommends others to control, exposures of humans and the environment.”

This chapter is explaining the exposure scenario on the basis of the WHO definition, with hints of the particularities of the REACH regulation.

Similarly to drug treatment, an exposure estimate can be understood as the dose of a contaminant or hazardous substance that can be taken in by an individual or a population.

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Correspondence to Gerhard Heinemeyer .

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Heinemeyer, G. (2014). Exposure Scenarios in Toxicology. In: Reichl, FX., Schwenk, M. (eds) Regulatory Toxicology. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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