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Environ Health Perspect. 1995 Mar;103(3):276-85.

Daily estimates of soil ingestion in children.

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  • 1School of Public Health, University of Massachusetts, Amherst 01003, USA.


Soil ingestion estimates play an important role in risk assessment of contaminated sites, and estimates of soil ingestion in children are of special interest. Current estimates of soil ingestion are trace-element specific and vary widely among elements. Although expressed as daily estimates, the actual estimates have been constructed by averaging soil ingestion over a study period of several days. The wide variability has resulted in uncertainty as to which method of estimation of soil ingestion is best. We developed a methodology for calculating a single estimate of soil ingestion for each subject for each day. Because the daily soil ingestion estimate represents the median estimate of eligible daily trace-element-specific soil ingestion estimates for each child, this median estimate is not trace-element specific. Summary estimates for individuals and weeks are calculated using these daily estimates. Using this methodology, the median daily soil ingestion estimate for 64 children participating in the 1989 Amherst soil ingestion study is 13 mg/day or less for 50% of the children and 138 mg/day or less for 95% of the children. Mean soil ingestion estimates (for up to an 8-day period) were 45 mg/day or less for 50% of the children, whereas 95% of the children reported a mean soil ingestion of 208 mg/day or less. Daily soil ingestion estimates were used subsequently to estimate the mean and variance in soil ingestion for each child and to extrapolate a soil ingestion distribution over a year, assuming that soil ingestion followed a log-normal distribution.

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