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Assessment factors for human health risk assessment: A discussion paper

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Author: Vermeire, T. · Stevenson, H. · Pieters, M.N. · Rennen, M. · Slob, W. · Hakkert, B.C.
Institution: Centraal Instituut voor Voedingsonderzoek TNO
Source:Critical Reviews in Toxicology, 5, 29, 439-490
Identifier: 235193
doi: doi:10.1080/10408449991349249
Keywords: Nutrition · Data base · Dose response · Health hazard · Human · Motivation · Probability · Risk assessment · Standard · Animals · Benchmarking · Dose-Response Relationship, Drug · Health · Humans · No-Observed-Adverse-Effect Level · Probability · Risk Assessment · Risk Factors · Toxicity Tests


The general goal of this discussion paper is to contribute toward the further harmonization of human health risk assessment. It first discusses the development of a formal, harmonized set of assessment factors. The status quo with regard to assessment factors is reviewed, that is, the type of factors to be identified, the range of values assigned, as well as the presence or absence of a scientific basis for these values. Options are presented for a set of default values and probabilistic distributions for assessment factors based on the state of the art. Methods of combining default values or probabilistic distributions of assessment factors are also described. Second, the effect parameter, the no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL), is discussed. This NOAEL as selected from the toxicological database may be a poor substitute for the unknown, true no-adverse-effect level (NAEL). New developments are presented with respect to the estimation of the NAEL. The already widely discussed Benchmark Dose concept can be extended to obtain an uncertainty distribution of the Critical Effect Dose (CED). This CED distribution can be combined with estimated uncertainty distributions for assessment factors. In this way the full distribution of the Human Limit Value will be derived and not only a point estimate, whereas information on dose-response relations is taken into account. Finally, a strategy is proposed for implementation of the new developments into human health risk assessments.