Human exposure assessment

Whereas laboratory studies provide the data necessary to define chemical substance-related hazards, exposure assessment evaluates the degree of risk when an organism comes in contact with a chemical. It involves generating exposure scenarios that estimate the magnitude of exposure to a substance under conditions of use. This enables the safe dose or concentration of a substance to be determined for which people or the environment may be exposed.

REACH in Europe and TSCA in the United States require that substances are evaluated on the basis of risk as well as hazard. In the framework of REACH, manufacturers and importers are legally required to carry out exposure assessments of substances that are classified as “dangerous” or of PBT or vPvB substances. Manufacturing and all identified uses of the substances must be covered.

Examples of human exposure scenarios could include:
  • Workers exposed to chemical substances in a workshop.
  • Consumers exposed to chemicals in household products.
  • A community being exposed to chemicals from a nearby manufacturing facility.