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Retrospective Exposure Assessment Methods Used In Occupational Human Health Risk Assessment: A Systematic Review

Francesca Borghi, Libero Andrea Mazzucchelli, Davide Campagnolo, Sabrina Rovelli, Giacomo Fanti, Marta Keller, Andrea Cattaneo, Andrea Spinazzè, Domenico Maria Cavallo

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As part of the assessment and management of chemical risk and occupational hygiene, retrospective exposure assessment (REA) to chemical agents can be defined as the estimate of exposure associated with a person’s work history. The fundamental problem underlying the reconstruction of the exposure is that of transforming this type of information in quantitative terms to obtain an accurate estimate. REA can follow various approaches, some of which are technically complicated and both time and resource consuming. The aim of this systematic review is to present the techniques mainly used for occupational REA. In order to carry out this evaluation, a systematic review of the scientific literature was conducted. Forty-four studies were identified (published from 2010 to date) and analyzed. In exposure reconstruction studies, quantitative approaches should be preferable, especially when estimates will be used in the context of health impact assessment or epidemiology, although it is important to stress how, ideally, the experimental data available for the considered scenario should be used whenever possible as the main starting information base for further processing. To date, there is no single approach capable of providing an accurate estimate of exposure for each reasonably foreseeable condition and situation and the best approach generally depends on the level of information available for the specific case. The use of a combination of different reconstruction techniques can, therefore, represent a powerful tool for weighting and integrating data obtained through qualitative and quantitative approaches, in order to obtain the best possible estimate.