EU Science Hub

Aggregate exposure pathways in support of risk assessment

Over time, risk assessment has shifted from establishing relationships between exposure to a single chemical and a resulting adverse health outcome, to evaluating multiple chemicals and disease outcomes simultaneously. As a result, there is an increasing need to better understand the complex mechanisms that influence risk of chemical and non-chemical stressors, beginning at their source and ending at a biological endpoint relevant to human or ecosystem health risk assessment. Just as the Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) framework has emerged as a means of providing insight into mechanism-based toxicity, the exposure science community has seen the recent introduction of the Aggregate Exposure Pathway (AEP) framework. AEPs aid in making exposure data applicable to the FAIR (i.e., findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable) principle, especially by (1) organizing continuous flow of disjointed exposure information; (2) identifying data gaps, to focus resources on acquiring the most relevant data; (3) optimizing use and repurposing of existing exposure data; and (4) facilitating interoperability among predictive models. Herein, we discuss integration of the AOP and AEP frameworks and how such integration can improve confidence in both traditional and modern risk assessment approaches.