Browsing Articles and other publications by RIVM employees by Subjects
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APROBA-Plus: A probabilistic tool to evaluate and express uncertainty in hazard characterization and exposure assessment of substances.To facilitate the application of probabilistic risk assessment, the WHO released the APROBA tool. This tool applies lognormal uncertainty distributions to the different aspects of the hazard characterization, resulting in a probabilistic health-based guidance value. The current paper describes an extension, APROBA-Plus, which combines the output from the probabilistic hazard characterization with the probabilistic exposure to rapidly characterize risk and its uncertainty. The uncertainty in exposure is graphically compared with the uncertainty in the target human dose, i.e. the dose that complies with the specified protection goals. APROBA-Plus is applied to several case studies, resulting in distinct outcomes and illustrating that APROBA-Plus could serve as a standard extension of routine risk assessments. By visualizing the uncertainties, APROBA-Plus provides a more transparent and informative outcome than the more usual deterministic approaches, so that risk managers can make better informed decisions. For example, APROBA-Plus can help in deciding whether risk-reducing measures are warranted or that a refined risk assessment would first be needed. If the latter, the tool can be used to prioritize possible refinements. APROBA-Plus may also be used to rank substances into different risk categories, based on potential health risks without being compromised by different levels of conservatism that may be associated with point estimates of risk.
Assessment of Fecal Exposure Pathways in Low-Income Urban Neighborhoods in Accra, Ghana: Rationale, Design, Methods, and Key Findings of the SaniPath Study.Rapid urbanization has contributed to an urban sanitation crisis in low-income countries. Residents in low-income, urban neighborhoods often have poor sanitation infrastructure and services and may experience frequent exposure to fecal contamination through a range of pathways. There are little data to prioritize strategies to decrease exposure to fecal contamination in these complex and highly contaminated environments, and public health priorities are rarely considered when planning urban sanitation investments. The SaniPath Study addresses this need by characterizing pathways of exposure to fecal contamination. Over a 16 month period, an in-depth, interdisciplinary exposure assessment was conducted in both public and private domains of four neighborhoods in Accra, Ghana. Microbiological analyses of environmental samples and behavioral data collection techniques were used to quantify fecal contamination in the environment and characterize the behaviors of adults and children associated with exposure to fecal contamination. Environmental samples (n = 1,855) were collected and analyzed for fecal indicators and enteric pathogens. A household survey with 800 respondents and over 500 hours of structured observation of young children were conducted. Approximately 25% of environmental samples were collected in conjunction with structured observations (n = 441 samples). The results of the study highlight widespread and often high levels of fecal contamination in both public and private domains and the food supply. The dominant fecal exposure pathway for young children in the household was through consumption of uncooked produce. The SaniPath Study provides critical information on exposure to fecal contamination in low-income, urban environments and ultimately can inform investments and policies to reduce these public health risks.
Multipathway Quantitative Assessment of Exposure to Fecal Contamination for Young Children in Low-Income Urban Environments in Accra, Ghana: The SaniPath Analytical Approach.Lack of adequate sanitation results in fecal contamination of the environment and poses a risk of disease transmission via multiple exposure pathways. To better understand how eight different sources contribute to overall exposure to fecal contamination, we quantified exposure through multiple pathways for children under 5 years old in four high-density, low-income, urban neighborhoods in Accra, Ghana. We collected more than 500 hours of structured observation of behaviors of 156 children, 800 household surveys, and 1,855 environmental samples. Data were analyzed using Bayesian models, estimating the environmental and behavioral factors associated with exposure to fecal contamination. These estimates were applied in exposure models simulating sequences of behaviors and transfers of fecal indicators. This approach allows us to identify the contribution of any sources of fecal contamination in the environment to child exposure and use dynamic fecal microbe transfer networks to track fecal indicators from the environment to oral ingestion. The contributions of different sources to exposure were categorized into four types (high/low by dose and frequency), as a basis for ranking pathways by the potential to reduce exposure. Although we observed variation in estimated exposure (108-1016 CFU/day for Escherichia coli) between different age groups and neighborhoods, the greatest contribution was consistently from food (contributing > 99.9% to total exposure). Hands played a pivotal role in fecal microbe transfer, linking environmental sources to oral ingestion. The fecal microbe transfer network constructed here provides a systematic approach to study the complex interaction between contaminated environment and human behavior on exposure to fecal contamination.
Porcine blood used as ingredient in meat productions may serve as a vehicle for hepatitis E virus transmission.The aim of the present study was to investigate whether the use of porcine blood(products) in food could be a risk for a hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection. HEV RNA was detected in 33/36 batches of (non-heated) liquid products and in 7/24 spray dried powder products. Contamination levels varied among the products, but were highest in liquid whole blood, plasma and fibrinogen reaching levels of 2.2×102 to 2.8×102 HEV genome copies per 0.2g. Sequence analyses revealed genotype 3 strains, of which two were 100% (493nt) identical to recently diagnosed HEV cases, although no direct epidemiological link was established. The industry provided information on processing of blood products in (ready-to-eat)-meat. From this, it was concluded that blood products as an ingredient of processed meat may not be sufficiently heated prior to consumption, and therefore could be a vehicle for transmission.