A Literature Review of Emerging Technologies and Strategies for Reducing Uncertainty and Increasing Accuracy and Efficiency in Environmental Risk Assessment

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Title: A Literature Review of Emerging Technologies and Strategies for Reducing Uncertainty and Increasing Accuracy and Efficiency in Environmental Risk Assessment
Author: Beuthe, Michael
Abstract: Beuthe, Michael. Master of Environmental Assessment. A Literature Review of Emerging Technologies and Strategies for Reducing Uncertainty and Increasing Accuracy and Efficiency in Environmental Risk Assessment A literature review was conducted to assess the uncertainty and limitations associated with the current environmental risk assessment paradigm: toxicity assessment, exposure assessment, and risk characterization. The goal was to identify and summarize emerging techniques and strategies to reduce uncertainties and limitations. Furthermore, the potential of emerging technologies and strategies to change the risk assessment paradigm were also evaluated. The literature review included primary literature and various guideline documents from regulatory bodies. The main focus topics included toxicology, molecular biology, genetics, remote sensing geographical information sciences (GIS), nano technology, chemical sensors, computational modeling and biomonitoring. Review of this extensive literature indicates that emerging techniques and strategies in toxicity assessment should focus on replacing toxicity data from controlled animal laboratory studies using high doses and apical end points with human toxicity data based on toxic end points associated with lower chronic doses which are more typical of environmental exposure to toxicants. Emerging strategies and techniques that can meet this objective include cytotoxicity data obtained from in vitro high throughput screening (HTS) of human cell lines exposed to low doses of environmental toxicants, and physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models and virtual tissues (VTs) to evaluate in vitro data to in vivo conditions and determine internal dose with more accuracy than current methods. In parallel, exposure assessment should focus on replacing exposure estimates based on limited sampling, monitoring and exposure factor data with methods that will provide near-real-time exposure concentrations on finer spatial scales, and track receptor-specific exposure frequency and duration in both indoor and outdoor locations. Emerging techniques and strategies to meet this objective include the ubiquitous deployment of light weight, low cost nano-electro and micro-electro chemical sensors capable of measuring near-real time exposure concentrations at much finer resolutions, and advances in geospatial analyses to estimate exposure concentration in unmeasured locations. The use of publicly accessible online monitoring networks to upload, share and view exposure data will potentially make it easier to identify and mitigate areas of concern, and may eventually change the exposure assessment process from a strictly scenario-based process to one that is more holistic. Developments in tracking technologies will provide environmental risk assessors with more accurate and receptor-specific data in regard to exposure frequency and duration, and developments in portable and easy to use biomonitoring technology such as lab-on- chip will provide a method of obtaining biomarkers directly from populations in areas where the use of less invasive methods identify an exposure of concern. Lastly, it is anticipated that the full implementation of the emerging strategies and techniques will be a gradual process, and that an environmental “tool box” or similar system should be developed to provide an easy to use resource for risk assessors who are interested in using new risk assessment techniques during this transition process but lack the time and resources to thoroughly search through all of the new emerging techniques and strategies.
Date: 2018-07
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.20/35375


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