Environment international

Cumulative risk assessment of chemical exposures in urban environments.

PMID 21450344


We performed a cumulative risk assessment for people living in a hypothetical urban environment, called Urbania. The main aims of the study were to demonstrate how a cumulative risk assessment for a middle-sized European city can be performed and to identify the bottlenecks in terms of data availability and knowledge gaps. The assessment focused on five air pollutants (i.e., PM₁₀, benzene, toluene, nonane and naphthalene) and six food pesticides (i.e., acetamiprid, carbendazim, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, imidacloprid and permethrin). Exposure predictions showed that PM₁₀, benzene and naphthalene exposure frequently exceeded the standards, and that the indoor environment contributed more than the outdoor environment. Effect predictions showed that mixture and interaction effects were generally limited. However, model calculations indicated potential synergistic effects between naphthalene and benzene and between chlorpyrifos, diazinon and toluene. PM₁₀ dominated the health impact expressed in Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs). We conclude that measures to reduce the health impact of environmental pollution should focus on the improvement of indoor air quality and the reduction of PM₁₀ emissions. Cumulative risk assessment can be improved by (1) the development of person-oriented exposure models that can simulate the cumulative exposure history of individuals, (2) a better mechanistic understanding of the effects of cumulative stressors, and (3) the development of instruments to prioritize stressors for inclusion in cumulative risk assessments.