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Aggregate exposure pathways in support of risk assessment
Tan, C., J. Leonard, S. Edwards, J. Teeguarden, A. Paini, AND P. Egeghy. Aggregate exposure pathways in support of risk assessment. Current Opinion in Toxicology. Elsevier BV, AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, 9:8-13, (2018).
The concept of the AEP framework has seen significant feedback and suggestions regarding its refinement since its introduction by Teeguarden et al. (2016). The current paper is a result of communication among numerous experts in the fields of exposure science, ecological modeling, and risk assessment. As more data are collected within the AEP framework, users will benefit from better-organized and integrated exposure information regardless of the use for those data. In addition, future research can be tailored to address known data gaps and modeling needs highlighted by the comprehensive integration of exposure information. The examples considered herein do not capture the full potential offered by the AEP framework, and additional case studies are underway to further highlight the value of the AEP framework. While there are certain similarities between AEPs and existing exposure science resources, the unique aspects that AEPs provide in support of these various resources stand as a testament to the framework’s significant advancement of 21st century exposure science.
Over time, risk assessment has shifted from establishing relationships between exposure to a single chemical and a resulting adverse health outcome, to evaluating multiple chemicals and disease outcomes simultaneously. As a result, there is an increasing need to better understand the complex mechanisms that influence risk of chemical and non-chemical stressors, beginning at their source and ending at a biological endpoint relevant to human or ecosystem health risk assessment. Just as the Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) framework has emerged as a means of providing insight into mechanism-based toxicity, the exposure science community has seen the recent introduction of the Aggregate Exposure Pathway (AEP) framework. AEPs aid in making exposure data applicable to the FAIR (i.e., findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable) principle, especially by (1) organizing continuous flow of disjointed exposure information; (2) identifying data gaps, to focus resources on acquiring the most relevant data; (3) optimizing use and repurposing of existing exposure data; and (4) facilitating interoperability among predictive models. Herein, we discuss integration of the AOP and AEP frameworks and how such integration can improve confidence in both traditional and modern risk assessment approaches.