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Keywords:

  • Physical parameter;
  • risk assessment;
  • risk management;
  • variability

Physical property values are used in environmental risk assessments to estimate media and risk-based concentrations. Recently, however, considerable variability has been reported with such values. To evaluate potential variability in physical parameter values supporting a variety of regulatory programs, eight data sources were chosen for evaluation, and chemicals appearing in at least four sources were selected. There were 755 chemicals chosen. In addition, chemicals in seven environmentally important subgroups were also identified for evaluation. Nine parameters were selected for analysis—molecular weight (MolWt), melting point (MeltPt), boiling point (BoilPt), vapor pressure (VP), water solubility (AqSOL), Henry's law constant (HLC), octanol-water partition coefficient (Kow), and diffusion coefficients in air (Dair) and water (Dwater). Results show that while 71% of constituents had equal MolWts across data sources, <3% of the constituents had equivalent parameter values across data sources for AqSOL, VP, or HLC. Considerable dissimilarity between certain sources was also observed. Furthermore, measures of dispersion showed considerable variation in data sets for Kow, VP, AqSOL, and HLC compared to measures for MolWt, MeltPt, BoilPt, or Dwater. The magnitude of the observed variability was also noteworthy. For example, the 95th percentile ratio of maximum/minimum parameter values ranged from 1.0 for MolWt to well over 1.0 × 106 for VP and HLC. Risk and exposure metrics also varied by similar magnitudes. Results with environmentally important subgroups were similar. These results show that there is considerable variability in physical parameter values from standard sources, and that the observed variability could affect potential risk estimates and perhaps risk management decisions.