Approaches to handling uncertainty when setting environmental exposure standards

  • Esben Budtz-Jørgensen
  • Niels Keiding
  • Philippe Grandjean
Part of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security book series (NAPSC)

The statistical properties of the two most widely used methods for setting environmental exposure standards are explored. The traditional NOAEL approach handles uncertainty in disagreement with the precautionary principle: a smaller and less sensitive study will tend to yield higher exposure limits. As an attractive alternative, the Benchmark dose approach estimates the exposure associated with a predefined risk increase above the background. Although advantageous in several respects, this method is sensitive to sources of uncertainty arising from measurement error and data dependent selection of the dose—response model as well the choice of critical endpoint. An improved Benchmark analysis can be conducted using structural equation models and Bayesian model averaging.


benchmark dose measurement error multiple endpoints model uncertainty risk assessment structural equations 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Esben Budtz-Jørgensen
    • 1
  • Niels Keiding
    • 1
  • Philippe Grandjean
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biostatistics, Institute of Public HealthUniversity of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 5BKøbenhavn KDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Medicine, Institute of Public HealthUniversity of Southern Denmark, Winslowparken 17OdenseDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Environmental HealthHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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