The purpose of this article is to describe a standard set of age groups for exposure assessors to consider when assessing childhood exposure and potential dose to environmental contaminants. In addition, this article presents examples to show how the age groups can be applied in children's exposure assessments. A consistent set of childhood age groups, supported by an underlying scientific rationale, will improve the accuracy and comparability of exposure and risk assessments for children. The effort was undertaken in part to aid the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in implementing such regulatory initiatives as the 1997 Presidential Executive Order 13045, which required all federal agencies to ensure that their standards take into account special risks to children. The standard age groups include: birth to <1 month; 1 to <3 months; 3 to <6 months; 6 to <12 months; 1 to <2 years; 2 to <3 years; 3 to <6 years; 6 to <11 years; 11 to <16 years; and 16 to <21 years. These age groups reflect a consideration of developmental changes in various behavioral, anatomical, and physiological characteristics that impact exposure and potential dose. It is expected that the availability of a standard set of early-life age groups will inform future analyses of exposure factors data as well as guide new research and data collection efforts to fill knowledge gaps.
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