Perspectives for integrating human and environmental exposure assessments

Sci Total Environ. 2016 Oct 15;568:512-521. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.11.083. Epub 2015 Dec 7.


Integrated Risk Assessment (IRA) has been defined by the EU FP7 HEROIC Coordination action as "the mutual exploitation of Environmental Risk Assessment for Human Health Risk Assessment and vice versa in order to coherently and more efficiently characterize an overall risk to humans and the environment for better informing the risk analysis process" (Wilks et al., 2015). Since exposure assessment and hazard characterization are the pillars of risk assessment, integrating Environmental Exposure assessment (EEA) and Human Exposure assessment (HEA) is a major component of an IRA framework. EEA and HEA typically pursue different targets, protection goals and timeframe. However, human and wildlife species also share the same environment and they similarly inhale air and ingest water and food through often similar overlapping pathways of exposure. Fate models used in EEA and HEA to predict the chemicals distribution among physical and biological media are essentially based on common properties of chemicals, and internal concentration estimations are largely based on inter-species (i.e. biota-to-human) extrapolations. Also, both EEA and HEA are challenged by increasing scientific complexity and resources constraints. Altogether, these points create the need for a better exploitation of all currently existing data, experimental approaches and modeling tools and it is assumed that a more integrated approach of both EEA and HEA may be part of the solution. Based on the outcome of an Expert Workshop on Extrapolations in Integrated Exposure Assessment organized by the HEROIC project in January 2014, this paper identifies perspectives and recommendations to better harmonize and extrapolate exposure assessment data, models and methods between Human Health and Environmental Risk Assessments to support the further development and promotion of the concept of IRA. Ultimately, these recommendations may feed into guidance showing when and how to apply IRA in the regulatory decision-making process for chemicals.

Keywords: Environmental exposure assessment; Human exposure assessment; Integration.

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Risk Assessment / methods*


  • Environmental Pollutants