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Sci Total Environ. 2009 Sep 15;407(19):5199-205. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.05.004. Epub 2009 Jul 19.

Weight-of-evidence evaluation in environmental assessment: review of qualitative and quantitative approaches.

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  • 1US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS 39180, United States. Igor.Linkov@usace.army.mil

Abstract

Assessments of human health and ecological risk draw upon multiple types and sources of information, requiring the integration of multiple lines of evidence before conclusions may be reached. Risk assessors often make use of weight-of-evidence (WOE) approaches to perform the integration, whether integrating evidence concerning potential carcinogenicity, toxicity, and exposure from chemicals at a contaminated site, or evaluating processes concerned with habitat loss or modification when managing a natural resource. Historically, assessors have relied upon qualitative WOE approaches, such as professional judgment, or limited quantitative methods, such as direct scoring, to develop conclusions from multiple lines of evidence. Current practice often lacks transparency resulting in risk estimates lacking quantified uncertainty. This paper reviews recent applications of weight of evidence used in human health and ecological risk assessment. Applications are sorted based on whether the approach relies on qualitative and quantitative methods in order to reveal trends in the use of the term weight of evidence, especially as a means to facilitate structured and transparent development of risk conclusions from multiple lines of evidence.

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