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Risk Assessment of Chemicals

Issues Relevant to Toxicology

  1. Leah D. Stuchal PhD1,
  2. Stephen M. Roberts PhD2

Published Online: 15 DEC 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470744307.gat118

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

How to Cite

Stuchal, L. D. and Roberts, S. M. 2009. Risk Assessment of Chemicals. General, Applied and Systems Toxicology. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Florida, Department of Physiological Sciences, J. Hillis Miller Health Science Center, Gainesville, Florida, USA

  2. 2

    University of Florida, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, J. Hillis Miller Health Science Center, Gainesville, Florida, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2009

Abstract

Risk assessment of chemicals is a process that results in a quantitative and/or qualitative estimate of risk posed by chemical exposure. It includes identification of the hazard, a dose-response assessment, exposure assessment and risk characterization. The process of risk assessment continually evolves as science refines estimates of exposure and toxicity. There are two main types of risk assessment, human health and ecological, which have evolved separately to a large extent. Human health risk assessment is concerned with the protection of individuals. It considers hazard and risk to sensitive subpopulations, such as children and the elderly. Ecological risk assessment is concerned with protecting the environment and considers multiple species. Because the entity of concern is the ecosystem, the focus is on protection of populations rather than individuals. Both types of risk assessments typically utilize models to estimate the dose of chemical received and the likelihood that toxicity will occur in a particular exposure scenario. These models incorporate assumptions about exposure and toxicity, and must address both variability and uncertainty associated with risk estimates. Risk assessment is an important tool in managing potential public health and environmental impacts resulting from the use of chemicals.

Keywords:

  • risk assessment;
  • hazard assessment;
  • toxicity;
  • uncertainty factors;
  • dose-response relationship;
  • deterministic risk;
  • probabilistic risk;
  • exposure;
  • threshold dose;
  • benchmark dose;
  • ecological risk assessment