Improving the risk assessment of lipophilic persistent environmental chemicals in breast milk
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Lipophilic persistent environmental chemicals (LPECs) have the potential to accumulate within a woman's body lipids over the course of many years prior to pregnancy, to partition into human milk, and to transfer to infants upon breastfeeding. As a result of this accumulation and partitioning, a breastfeeding infant's intake of these LPECs may be much greater than his/her mother's average daily exposure. Because the developmental period sets the stage for lifelong health, it is important to be able to accurately assess chemical exposures in early life. In many cases, current human health risk assessment methods do not account for differences between maternal and infant exposures to LPECs or for lifestage-specific effects of exposure to these chemicals. Because of their persistence and accumulation in body lipids and partitioning into breast milk, LPECs present unique challenges for each component of the human health risk assessment process, including hazard identification, dose-response assessment, and exposure assessment. Specific biological modeling approaches are available to support both dose-response and exposure assessment for lactational exposures to LPECs. Yet, lack of data limits the application of these approaches. The goal of this review is to outline the available approaches and to identify key issues that, if addressed, could improve efforts to apply these approaches to risk assessment of lactational exposure to these chemicals.
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