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Intake estimation of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in salmon: the inclusion of uncertainty

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Dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs are given toxic equivalency factors (TEFs) in order to calculate the combined toxic equivalence (TEQ) of these contaminants in a sample of food. This study calculates the probability of an average consumer exceeding the recommended tolerable daily intake of 1-4 pg WHO-TEQ kg-1 bw day-1 as the amount of salmon in the diet is increased. Probabilistic risk analysis is used to account for the known uncertainties in this calculation. When the TEF uncertainty was excluded with no salmon consumption, the background dietary intake ranged from 1.36 to 1.78 pg TEQ kg-1 bw day-1. A weekly consumption of three standard salmon portions resulted in a 36% chance of exceeding the upper limit of the TDI. Inclusion of the TEF uncertainty increased the background dietary intake range from 2.1 to 4.4 pg TEQ kg-1 bw day-1, and the weekly consumption of one salmon portion resulted in a 79% chance of the average consumer exceeding the upper TDI. The most important factors contributing to the uncertainty in these results were, in order of magnitude, the TEF for PCB 126 and the sampling uncertainty (sample size) followed by the measurement uncertainty of PCB 126. We recommend that it is more important to increase sample size and produce more precise estimates in the TEF than to improve analytical accuracy.
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Keywords: DIOXINS; PCBS; POLYCHLORINATED BIPHENYLS; PROBABILISTIC RISK ANALYSIS; SALMON; UNCERTAINTY

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Central Science Laboratory, Sand Hutton, York YO41 1LZ, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2002

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