Parameter Uncertainty and Variability In Evaluative Fate and Exposure Models



The human toxicity potential, a weighting scheme used to evaluate toxicemissions for life cycle assessment and toxics release inventories, is based on potential dose calculations and toxicity factors. This paper evaluatesthe variance in potential dose calculations that can be attributed to the uncertainty in chemical-specific input parameters as well as the variabilit in exposure factors and landscape parameters. A knowledge of the uncertainty allows us to assess the robustness of a decision based on the toxicity potential; a knowledge of the sources of uncertainty allows us to focus our resources if we want to reduce the uncertainty. The potential dose of 236 chemicals was assessed. The chemicals were grouped by dominant exposure route, and a Monte Carlo analysis was conducted for one representative chemical in each group. The variance is typically one to two orders of magnitude. For comparison, the point estimates in potential dose for 236 chemicals span ten orders of magnitude. Most of the variance in the potential dose is due to chemical-specific input parameters, especially half-lives, although exposure factors such as fish intake and the source of drinking water can be important for chemicals whose dominant exposure is through indirect routes. Landscape characteristics are generally of minor importance.