Assessing and Reporting Uncertainties in Dietary Exposure Analysis – Part II: Application of the uncertainty template to a practical example of exposure assessment

Understanding uncertainty in exposure assessment is essential to understand relative risk. In this paper relative uncertainties of exposure to aspartame are assessed via two different models and potential means of communication about respective uncertainties are discussed.

A previous publication by the Dietary Intake and Exposure Task Force describes methods for assessing and reporting uncertainty in dietary exposure assessments (available here). This follow-up publication uses a case study based on aspartame to develop proposals for representing and communicating uncertainty to risk managers. Uncertainty estimations are calculated using a simple deterministic model (the EFSA FAIM template) and with a more sophisticated probabilistic exposure assessment software (FACET). Parameter and model uncertainties are identified for each modelling approach. The relative importance of each source of uncertainty based on the two different models is then evaluated using a semi-quantitative scale and the results presented using two different forms of graphical summary. Such an approach is helpful for risk managers to understand uncertainties more easily.
The majority of uncertainties are often associated with data sources rather than the model itself. However, differences in modelling methods can have the greatest impact on uncertainties overall, particularly when the underlying data are the same. Improved methods for communicating uncertainties for risk management will be worthwhile investigating in future research.

The paper is available here as open access.

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