A Measure of Exposure Intimacy for Manufactured Chemicals
BACKGROUND: Limited data are available to assess human exposure to thousands of chemicals currently in commerce. Information that relates human intake of a chemical to its production and use can help inform understanding of mechanisms and pathways that control exposure and support efforts to protect public health.OBJECTIVES: We introduce the intake-to-production ratio (IPR) as an economy-wide quantitative indicator of the extent to which chemical production results in human exposure.METHODS: The IPR was evaluated as the ratio of two terms: aggregate rate of chemical uptake in a human population (inferred from urinary excretion data) divided by the rate that chemical is produced in or imported into that population's economy. We used biomonitoring data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with chemical manufacturing data reported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as other published data, to estimate the IPR for nine chemicals in the United States. Results are reported in units of parts per million, where 1 ppm indicates 1 g of chemical uptake for every million grams of economy-wide use.RESULTS: Estimated IPR values for the studied compounds span many orders of magnitude from a low of 0.6 ppm for bisphenol A to a high of > 180,000 ppm for methyl paraben. Intermediate results were obtained for five phthalates and two chlorinated aromatic compounds: 120 ppm for butyl benzyl phthalate, 670 ppm for di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, 760 ppm for di(n-butyl) phthalate, 1,040 ppm for para-dichlorobenzene, 6,800 ppm for di(isobutyl) phthalate, 7,700 ppm for diethyl phthalate, and 8,000-24,000 ppm (range) for triclosan.CONCLUSION: The IPR is well suited as an aggregate metric of exposure intensity for characterizing population-level exposure to synthesized chemicals, particularly those that move fairly rapidly from manufacture to human intake and have relatively stable production and intake rates.
Environmental Health Perspectives, 2012, Vol 120, Issue 12, p. 1678-1683