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Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2007 Feb;47(1):96-109. Epub 2006 Oct 6.

Biomonitoring equivalents: a screening approach for interpreting biomonitoring results from a public health risk perspective.

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  • 1Summit Toxicology, LLP, Allenspark, CO, USA.


Advances in both sensitivity and specificity of analytical chemistry have made it possible to quantify substances in human biological specimens, such as blood, urine, and breast milk, in specimen volumes that are practical for collection from individuals. Research laboratories led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its series National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2005. Third National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. NCEH Pub. No. 05-0570.] are dedicating substantial resources to designing and conducting human biomonitoring studies and compiling biomonitoring data for the general population. However, the ability to quantitatively interpret the results of human biomonitoring in the context of a health risk assessment currently lags behind the analytical chemist's ability to make such measurements. The traditional paradigm for human health risk assessment of environmental chemicals involves comparing estimated daily doses to health-based criteria for acceptable, safe, or tolerable daily intakes (for example, reference doses [RfDs], tolerable daily intakes [TDIs], or minimal risk levels [MRLs]) to assess whether estimated doses exceed such health screening levels. However, biomonitoring efforts result in measured chemical concentrations in biological specimens (the result of absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of administered doses) rather than estimated intake doses. Quantitative benchmarks of acceptable or safe concentrations in biological specimens (analogous to RfDs, TDIs, or MRLs) needed to interpret these levels exist for very few chemicals of environmental interest. This paper discusses issues inherent in converting existing health screening benchmarks based on intake doses to screening levels for evaluating biomonitoring data, and presents methods and approaches that can be used to derive such screening levels (termed "Biomonitoring Equivalents," or BEs) for a range of chemicals and biological media.

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