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Human Exposure to Malathion during a Possible Vector-Control Intervention against West Nile Virus. II: Evaluation of the Toxicological Risks Using a Probabilistic Approach

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In order to prevent the propagation of West Nile Virus (WNV), insecticide sprayings have been carried out in several locations in North America since 1999 with the objective of controlling the mosquito populations that transmit this pathogen. An attempt to quantitatively compare the risk of developing a health response to WNV infection with the toxicological risk of insecticides is presented here. First, the acute and subchronic environmental concentrations resulting from repeated spraying events were modeled according to a reasonable worst-case spraying sequence established in an intervention program proposed by the Government of Quebec (Canada). Second, probability density functions (PDF) were established for some exposure parameters according to the data for the concerned population, when feasible. Monte Carlo analyses were performed by incorporating these PDF into the equations used to calculate the daily absorbed doses resulting from the exposure scenarios presented in the companion article (this issue). The results showed that for a significant proportion of the population, aerial and, to a lesser extent, ground sprayings of malathion can generate acute and subchronic exposure that may exceed some levels of toxicological concern based on the USEPA's reference values. Indeed, in the case of acute exposure following aerial spraying for infants, toddlers, and children, these proportions were respectively 37.1%, 59.5%, and 32.8% of the individuals, and 27.3%, 41.3%, and 24.9% following subchronic exposure. For ground spraying, these values were 12.5%, 24.2%, 8.8%; and 9.8%, 16.5%, and 7.4%. These results allowed the comparison of the probability of exceeding a level of toxicological concern for malathion exposure with the probability of developing WNV symptoms. This comparison shows that in some circumstances, the toxicological risk of malathion may exceed the infectious risk of WNV.
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Keywords: Monte Carlo analysis; West Nile virus; malathion exposure; probability density functions; risk assessment

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Direction des Risques Biologiques, Environnementaux et Occupationnels, Institut national de sante publique du Quebec, Montreal, QC, Canada

Publication date: 2008-11-01

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