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General Principles for Performing Aggregate Exposure and Risk Assessments for Pesticides

EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) is responsible for regulating pesticide residues in food under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). In 1996, Congress passed the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), which amended FFDCA. The FQPA amendments to the FFDCA directed OPP to consider “aggregate exposure” in its decision-making.

Aggregate exposure and risk assessment involve the analysis of exposure to a single chemical by multiple pathways and routes of exposure. The pathways of exposure considered in this general principles document include the potential for pesticide residues in food and drinking water, as well as residues from pesticide use in residential, nonoccupational environments. The pathway of exposure refers to how human behavioral patterns potentially interact with pesticides in the environment. All potential, relevant routes of exposure are analyzed within an aggregate exposure assessment. These include the oral, dermal (absorption), and inhalation routes of exposure. Thus, OPP was required by the FQPA amendments to modify its exposure and risk assessment methods to consider that pesticide chemicals may enter the body through various pathways (through food, drinking water, and residential uses) and routes (ingestion, dermal, and inhalation). 

This document provides the guidance currently in use for this type of assessment.

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