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Comment published on 8 February 2013, see Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(2), 712-716.

Comment published on 21 February 2013, see Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(2), 742-746.

Open AccessArticle
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(4), 1077-1096; doi:10.3390/ijerph9041077

Integrating Susceptibility into Environmental Policy: An Analysis of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for Lead

1
RAND Corporation, 1200 South Hayes Street, Arlington, VA 22202, USA
2
Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624 N. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
3
RHWhite Consulting, 12900 Tourmaline Terrace, Silver Spring, MD 20904, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 February 2012 / Revised: 20 March 2012 / Accepted: 21 March 2012 / Published: 27 March 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cumulative Health Risk Assessment)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [368 KB, uploaded 19 June 2014]   |  

Abstract

Susceptibility to chemical toxins has not been adequately addressed in risk assessment methodologies. As a result, environmental policies may fail to meet their fundamental goal of protecting the public from harm. This study examines how characterization of risk may change when susceptibility is explicitly considered in policy development; in particular we examine the process used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set a National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for lead. To determine a NAAQS, EPA estimated air lead-related decreases in child neurocognitive function through a combination of multiple data elements including concentration-response (CR) functions. In this article, we present alternative scenarios for determining a lead NAAQS using CR functions developed in populations more susceptible to lead toxicity due to socioeconomic disadvantage. The use of CR functions developed in susceptible groups resulted in cognitive decrements greater than original EPA estimates. EPA’s analysis suggested that a standard level of 0.15 µg/m3 would fulfill decision criteria, but by incorporating susceptibility we found that options for the standard could reasonably be extended to lower levels. The use of data developed in susceptible populations would result in the selection of a more protective NAAQS under the same decision framework applied by EPA. Results are used to frame discussion regarding why cumulative risk assessment methodologies are needed to help inform policy development.
Keywords: cumulative risk assessment; neurocognitive functioning; lead; nonchemical stressors; air standards; policy analysis cumulative risk assessment; neurocognitive functioning; lead; nonchemical stressors; air standards; policy analysis
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Chari, R.; Burke, T.A.; White, R.H.; Fox, M.A. Integrating Susceptibility into Environmental Policy: An Analysis of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for Lead. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9, 1077-1096.

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