Comparing alternative approaches to establishing regulatory levels for reproductive toxicants: DBCP as a case study

Environ Health Perspect. 1991 Feb;91:141-55. doi: 10.1289/ehp.9191141.


This paper compares four alternative approaches for deriving regulatory levels for reproductive toxicants by applying them to the available data on the human spermatotoxicant 1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP). The alternatives examined include the Proposition 65 approach (application of a mandatory 1000-fold uncertainty factor to a no-observed-adverse-effect level [NOAEL]), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approach (application of flexible uncertainty factors to a NOAEL), the Benchmark Dose approach (application of flexible uncertainty factors to a dose associated with a known level of change in a reproductive parameter), and the Quantitative Risk Estimation approach (using low-dose linear extrapolation and a model of the relationship between sperm count and infertility). Applied to DBCP, these approaches do not produce substantially different estimates of allowable exposure levels. However, the approaches do have different data requirements and provide different amounts of information on reproductive hazards to risk managers and the public. Neither the Proposition 65 nor the EPA approach provides information about the extent of health risk remaining at a regulatory level. In contrast, the Benchmark Dose approach can provide estimates of the magnitude of sperm count reduction at a regulatory level, and the Quantitative Risk Estimation approach can provide estimates of exposure-induced infertility.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antinematodal Agents / standards*
  • Antinematodal Agents / toxicity
  • California
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / chemically induced
  • Male
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Propane / analogs & derivatives*
  • Propane / standards
  • Propane / toxicity
  • Reference Values
  • Reproduction / drug effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • United States
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / standards*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity


  • Antinematodal Agents
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • 1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane
  • Propane