Further description:-  Receptor: Human health 

Glossary Entry
Entity that may be adversely affected by contact with or by exposure to a contaminant of concern, here 
human health
Risk Assessment: Receptor Human Health

Risk Assessment: Receptor Human Health


1.     Summary


An essential part of the risk assessment process is to estimate type and magnitude of exposures due to the release and/or migration of hazardous substances from a source (e.g., contaminated site). For the quantification of an exposure all potential human individuals need to be identified and characterized that could be affected by contact with contaminants. The description of these so called receptors takes place on basis of appropriate criteria that determine magnitude, frequency, duration, and roots of exposure, such as location relative to a contaminated site, activities and activity patterns, or presence of sensitive subpopulations.


2.     Definitions


Receptor: Any human individual or population that are presently or will potentially be exposed to, and adversely affected by, the release or migration of contaminants.


Exposure: Contact of a receptor with a substance. The quantification of exposure is expressed as amount of the substance available at the exchange boundaries of the receptor (e.g., skin, lung) and available for adsorption.


Exposure Routes: The way substances come in contact with the receptor, such as by ingestion, inhalation, or dermal contact.


3.     Receptor Identification and Characterization


Exposed human individuals or populations can be identified and characterized by following criteria:


a.)        Location

The location (distance and direction) relative to a contaminated site determines the potential for an exposure. Populations that are living on or closest to the site will get contact with hazardous compounds more likely than those staying far away.


b.)        Activities and activity patterns

Activities and activity patterns depend on the land use of the site. Frequently occurring land use categories are:


  • Residential,
  • Commercial/industrial,
  • Recreational,
  • Agricultural.


Each land use is associated with specific human activities and activity patterns:


  • Residence time on the site,
  • Activities on the site (e.g., gardening, excavation, fishing, etc.),
  • Location of activities (indoor and/or outdoor),
  • Seasonal changes of activities.


c.)        Sensitive subpopulations

In specific subpopulations exposure to hazardous substances may lead to an increased risk. Subpopulations of potential concern are:


  • Infants and children, pregnant and nursing women, elderly people, people with chronic diseases (due to increased sensitivity to chemical exposures),
  • People with behavior patterns that may cause high exposure (e.g., athletes, construction workers, children),
  • People exposed to hazardous substances from other sources (e.g., occupational activities).


4.     Data Sources


Information sources that provide data for the characterization of potentially exposed populations include:


  • Topographic maps,
  • Master plans,
  • Land use maps,
  • Housing maps,
  • Zoning maps,
  • Aerial photographs,
  • Land use-related laws and regulations,
  • Statistical offices,
  • Population surveys,
  • Exposure factor handbooks.


5.     Literature


European Center for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology for Chemicals (2001):

Exposure Factors Sourcebook for European Populations (with Focus on UK Data). ECETOC Technical Report No. 79. Brussels.


European Commission (1996):

Technical Guidance Documents in Support of the Commission Directive 93/67/EEC on Risk Assessment for New Substances and the Commission Regulation (EC) No 1488/94 on Risk Assessment for Existing Substances. Brussels.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1992):

Guidelines for Exposure Assessment. Office of Research and Development. Washington D.C. EPA/600/Z-92/001.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1997):

The Exposure Factors Handbook (EFH). Office of Research and Development. Washington D.C. EPA/600/P-95/002 Fa, Fb, and Fc.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1999):

Sociodemographic Data Used for Identifying Potentially Highly Exposed Populations (HEP). Office of Research and Development. Washington D.C. EPA/600R-99/060.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2000):

Science Policy Council Handbook. Risk Characterization. Washington D.C. EPA/100/B-00/002


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