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A Case Study Application of the Aggregate Exposure Pathway (AEP) and Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) Frameworks to Facilitate the Integration of Human Health and Ecological End Points for Cumulative Risk Assessment (CRA)

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journal contribution
posted on 13.12.2017, 00:00 by David E. Hines, Stephen W. Edwards, Rory B. Conolly, Annie M. Jarabek
Cumulative risk assessment (CRA) methods promote the use of a conceptual site model (CSM) to apportion exposures and integrate risk from multiple stressors. While CSMs may encompass multiple species, evaluating end points across taxa can be challenging due to data availability and physiological differences among organisms. Adverse outcome pathways (AOPs) describe biological mechanisms leading to adverse outcomes (AOs) by assembling causal pathways with measurable intermediate steps termed key events (KEs), thereby providing a framework for integrating data across species. In this work, we used a case study focused on the perchlorate anion (ClO4) to highlight the value of the AOP framework for cross-species data integration. Computational models and dose–response data were used to evaluate the effects of ClO4 in 12 species and revealed a dose–response concordance across KEs and taxa. The aggregate exposure pathway (AEP) tracks stressors from sources to the exposures and serves as a complement to the AOP. We discuss how the combined AEP-AOP construct helps to maximize the use of existing data and advances CRA by (1) organizing toxicity and exposure data, (2) providing a mechanistic framework of KEs for integrating data across human health and ecological end points, (3) facilitating cross-species dose–response evaluation, and (4) highlighting data gaps and technical limitations.