Gentry PR, Clewell HJ 3rd, Clewell R, Campbell J, Van Landingham C, Shipp AM. 2011. Challenges in the application of quantitative approaches in risk assessment: A case study with di-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate. Crit Rev Toxicol 41(Suppl 2):1–72.
The constantly evolving science of risk assessment is currently faced with many challenges, not only from the interpretation of the volume of data being generated with new innovative technologies, but also in attempting to quantitatively incorporate this information into understanding potential risk of adverse events in human populations. The objective of the case study described was to use the more recent data for di-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) to investigate the impact of innovative quantitative approaches on the risk assessment of a compound, specifically as it can be used to move towards the new vision of risk assessment involving the integration of the available toxicological data to understand underlying biological processes. What emerged were several outcomes that demonstrated clearly the importance of the integration of the toxicological data, specifically to understand the biological processes being impacted, because standard statistical modeling approaches may not be adequate to describe the dose-response relationships observed. Alternative approaches demonstrate that a definitive mode of action is not needed to justify the shape of the low-dose region or a threshold, when the integration of the available data assist risk assessors in understanding the shape of the dose-response curve for both noncancer and cancer endpoints. Many of the challenges described as part of this case study would likely be encountered with compounds other than DEHP, especially other receptor-mediated compounds or compounds that “perturb” biological pathways, such as endocrine disruptors. This case study also highlights the importance of communication between risk assessors and the research community to focus on the generation of data most relevant for assessing the potential for chemicals to impact biological systems in the human.