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An Assessment of the Data Quality for NHEXAS - Part I: Exposure to Metals and Volatile Organic Chemicals in Region 5

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Abstract: A National Human Exposure Assessment Survey (NHEXAS) was performed in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) Region V, providing population-based exposure distribution data for metals and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) in personal, indoor, and outdoor air, drinking water, beverages, food, dust, soil, blood, and urine. One of the principal objectives of NHEXAS was the testing of protocols for acquiring multimedia exposure measurements and developing databases for use in exposure models and assessments. Analysis of the data quality is one element in assessing the performance of the collection and analysis protocols used in NHEXAS. In addition, investigators must have data quality information available to guide their analyses of the study data. At the beginning of the program quality assurance (QA) goals were established for precision, accuracy, and method
quantification limits. The assessment of data quality was complicated. First, quality control (QC) data were not available for all analytes and media sampled, because some of the QC data, e.g., precision of duplicate sample analysis, could be derived only if the analyte was present in the media sampled in at least four pairs of sample duplicates. Furthermore, several laboratories were responsible for the analysis of the collected samples. Each laboratory provided QC data according to their protocols and standard operating procedures (SOPs). Detection limits were
established for each analyte in each sample type. The calculation of the method detection limits (MDLs) was different for each analytical method. The analytical methods for metals had adequate sensitivity for arsenic, lead, and cadmium in most media but not for chromium. The QA goals for arsenic and lead were met for all media except arsenic in dust and lead in air. The analytical methods for VOCs in air, water, and blood were sufficiently sensitive and met the QA goals, with very few exceptions. Accuracy was assessed as recovery from field controls. The results were excellent (98%) for metals in drinking water and acceptable (75%) for all VOCs except o-xylene in air. The recovery of VOCs from drinking water was lower, with all analytes except toluene (98%) in the 60-85% recovery range. The recovery of VOCs from drinking water also decreased when comparing holding times of <8 and >8 days. Assessment of the precision of sample collection and analysis was based on the percent relative standard deviation (% RSD) between the results for duplicate samples. In general, the number of duplicate samples (i.e., sample pairs) with measurable data were too few to assess the precision for cadmium and chromium in the various media. For arsenic and lead, the precision was excellent for indoor, and outdoor air (<10% RSD) and, although not meeting QA goals, it was acceptable for arsenic in urine and lead in blood, but showed much higher variability in dust. There were no data available for metals in water and food to assess the precision of collection and analysis.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), through its Office of Research and Development (ORD), funded this research under Cooperative Agreement CR 821902-01-0 and the analysis of results under Contract No. 68-D-99-008. This manuscript has been peer reviewed by EPA and approved for publication. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.
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Citation:Pellizzari, E. D., D. J. Smith, C. A. Clayton, L. C. Michael, and J. J. Quackenboss. An Assessment of the Data Quality for NHEXAS - Part I: Exposure to Metals and Volatile Organic Chemicals in Region 5. JOURNAL OF EXPOSURE ANALYSIS AND ENVIRONMENTAL EPIDEMIOLOGY 11(2):140-154, (2001).
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Contact: Liz Hope - (919) 541-2785 or hope.elizabeth@epa.gov
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Division: Human Exposure & Atmospheric Sciences Division
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Branch: Human Expsoure Research Branch
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Product Type: Journal
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Published: 07/20/2001
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Related Entries:
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Bullet Item Analysis and Products from NHEXAS - National Human Exposure Assessment Survey
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