APROBA-Plus: A probabilistic tool to evaluate and express uncertainty in hazard characterization and exposure assessment of substances

Food Chem Toxicol. 2017 Dec;110:408-417. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2017.10.038. Epub 2017 Oct 23.


To facilitate the application of probabilistic risk assessment, the WHO released the APROBA tool. This tool applies lognormal uncertainty distributions to the different aspects of the hazard characterization, resulting in a probabilistic health-based guidance value. The current paper describes an extension, APROBA-Plus, which combines the output from the probabilistic hazard characterization with the probabilistic exposure to rapidly characterize risk and its uncertainty. The uncertainty in exposure is graphically compared with the uncertainty in the target human dose, i.e. the dose that complies with the specified protection goals. APROBA-Plus is applied to several case studies, resulting in distinct outcomes and illustrating that APROBA-Plus could serve as a standard extension of routine risk assessments. By visualizing the uncertainties, APROBA-Plus provides a more transparent and informative outcome than the more usual deterministic approaches, so that risk managers can make better informed decisions. For example, APROBA-Plus can help in deciding whether risk-reducing measures are warranted or that a refined risk assessment would first be needed. If the latter, the tool can be used to prioritize possible refinements. APROBA-Plus may also be used to rank substances into different risk categories, based on potential health risks without being compromised by different levels of conservatism that may be associated with point estimates of risk.

Keywords: Communicating uncertainty; Exposure assessment; Probabilistic risk assessment.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Hazardous Substances / analysis
  • Hazardous Substances / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical
  • Risk Assessment / methods*


  • Hazardous Substances