Modeled Estimates of Soil and Dust Ingestion Rates for Children


Address correspondence to Halûk Özkaynak, U.S. EPA, Office of Research and Development, National Exposure Research Laboratory (E205-01), Research Triangle Park, NC 27711; tel: +1-919-541-5172; fax: +1-919-541-0239;


Daily soil/dust ingestion rates typically used in exposure and risk assessments are based on tracer element studies, which have a number of limitations and do not separate contributions from soil and dust. This article presents an alternate approach of modeling soil and dust ingestion via hand and object mouthing of children, using EPA's SHEDS model. Results for children 3 to <6 years old show that mean and 95th percentile total ingestion of soil and dust values are 68 and 224 mg/day, respectively; mean from soil ingestion, hand-to-mouth dust ingestion, and object-to-mouth dust ingestion are 41 mg/day, 20 mg/day, and 7 mg/day, respectively. In general, hand-to-mouth soil ingestion was the most important pathway, followed by hand-to-mouth dust ingestion, then object-to-mouth dust ingestion. The variability results are most sensitive to inputs on surface loadings, soil-skin adherence, hand mouthing frequency, and hand washing frequency. The predicted total soil and dust ingestion fits a lognormal distribution with geometric mean = 35.7 and geometric standard deviation = 3.3. There are two uncertainty distributions, one below the 20th percentile and the other above. Modeled uncertainties ranged within a factor of 3–30. Mean modeled estimates for soil and dust ingestion are consistent with past information but lower than the central values recommended in the 2008 EPA Child-Specific Exposure Factors Handbook. This new modeling approach, which predicts soil and dust ingestion by pathway, source type, population group, geographic location, and other factors, offers a better characterization of exposures relevant to health risk assessments as compared to using a single value.