The Integrated Exposure Uptake Biokinetic Model for Lead in Children (IEUBK model) was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to support assessments of health risks to children from exposures to lead (Pb).
This study evaluated performance of IEUBK model (v2.0) as it would be typically applied at Superfund sites to predict blood Pb levels (BLLs) in populations of children.
The model was evaluated by comparing model predictions of BLLs to 1144 observed BLLs in a population of children at the Bunker Hill Superfund Site for which there were paired estimates of environmental Pb concentrations.
Predicted population geometric mean (GM) BLLs (GM: 3.4 µg/dL, 95% CI: 3.3, 3.5) were within 0.3 µg/dL of observed (GM: 3.6 µg/dL, 95% CI: 3.5, 3.8). The model predicted the observed age trend in GM BLLs and explained ~90% of the variance in the observed age-stratified GM BLLs. The mean predicted probability of exceeding 5 µg/dL (P5) was 27% (95% CI: 24, 29) and observed P5 was 32% (95% CI: 29, 35), a difference of 5%. Differences between geographic area stratified mean P5 (predicted minus observed) ranged from −11 to 14% (mean difference: 2.3%).
Although the more general applicability of these findings to other populations remains to be determined in future studies, our results support applications of the IEUBK model (v2.0) for informing risk-based decisions regarding remediation of soils and mitigation of exposures at Superfund sites where the majority of the exposure unit GM BLLs are expected to be ≤5 µg/dL and where it is desired to limit the predicted probability of exceeding 5 µg/dL to <5%.
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The data used for this evaluation were collected during routine BLL monitoring at the Bunker Hill Superfund (BHSS) site by the local Kellogg Idaho Panhandle Health District under the auspices of the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ). IDEQ contracts with Alta Science and Engineering, Inc. for technical, scientific, and engineering services at the BHSS, including maintaining the blood Pb and environmental databases. Alta maintains these data in a confidential (coded) format that prevents the identification of the participants and their home locations. With permission of IDEQ, Alta staff used paired BHSS BLL and environmental media concentration data to evaluate the IEUBK model v2.0. Transfer of individual or confidential data from Alta to SRC and EPA was expressly prohibited. Additional model evaluation information is available publicly at https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/risk/recordisplay.cfm?deid=351563. Additional BHSS details are publicly available at https://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/csitinfo.cfm?id=1000195.
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The authors thank Dana Swift and Andy Helkey at the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, and the local Kellogg Idaho Panhandle Health District for allowing use of these data for this study. The authors also acknowledge the thousands of Silver Valley residents that participated in the lead health and remediation activities over the years.
This work was funded, in part, under U.S. EPA contract EP-C-17-015.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Brown, J.S., Spalinger, S.M., Weppner, S.G. et al. Evaluation of the integrated exposure uptake biokinetic (IEUBK) model for lead in children. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 33, 187–197 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-022-00473-2
- IEUBK model
- Human health risk assessment
- Bunker Hill