SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
17 July 2014
Volume 15 Issue 7

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Human Exposure to Emerging Contaminants: Monitoring and Modeling

Martin Krauss, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ and Natalie von Götz, ETH Zürich

Almost 20,000 chemicals are currently in commercial use, and humans are potentially exposed to these via environmental media, direct contact, food or drinking water. For the vast majority of these compounds, the contribution of different exposure pathways, total exposure and associated health effects are unknown. To prioritize new and existing chemicals for toxicological studies and risk assessment, a better characterization of human exposure is required. This encompasses both data collection within realistic exposure situations and development of models for human exposure that can translate findings from specific scenarios into the wide spectrum of exposure situations that is found in the real world.

The presentations of this well-attended session covered the broad range of activities related to the assessment of human exposure not only in terms of substances but also with regard to the different methods applied. Experimental studies addressed human exposure to semivolatile organic compounds present in textiles, investigated the importance of the inhalation against the dermal route for siloxanes in cosmetics, and compared foam and spray application of biocide formulations for surface disinfection. In human biomonitoring, perfluorinated acids, brominated flame retardants and plasticizers are still in the focus of research while first steps have been undertaken towards the application of a generic nontarget screening analysis based on liquid and gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry for the identification of novel contaminants. Two exposure modeling studies revealed that contaminants in Canada goose (Branta canadensis) do not pose a risk to frequent consumers, but exposure to organic UV filters from sunscreens and personal care products may be severe and skin sensitization may occur. Also a platform to integrate models and data relevant for consumer exposure was presented.

In the context of REACH, all of these research areas are highly relevant for constructing a reliable framework for the new regulatory requirement of assessing consumer exposure.

Overall, the session showed that recent research projects aim at a more comprehensive assessment of human exposure to chemicals, either through the aggregation of different sources and pathways, by using non-target screening approaches to monitor a broad range of compounds in human tissue, or by integrating experimental and modeling approaches.

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