Computational Toxicology Laboratory Produces New Models for Airborne Chemicals and Food Toxins

statistical graphs on a tablet screen

New Models Can Quickly Provide Protective Guidance for Emergencies Involving Airborne Chemicals

In emergency response situations where hazardous substances are present, officials must quickly assess risk to residents and first responders. They may consult with ATSDR when making decisions to evacuate an affected area or issue a shelter-in-place order.

ATSDR’s Computational Toxicology Laboratory (CompTox Lab) has developed an effective method for calculating the health risks of breathing in airborne chemicals during an emergency situation. The new process uses statistical techniques that incorporate multiple animal inhalation studies at different durations, concentrations, and for diverse species. The CompTox Lab uses this critical data to provide guidance on the short-term inhalation of airborne chemicals.

European Food Safety Authority Uses CompTox Lab Model for Analyzing Dioxins in Human Food

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently updated its “safe level” of dioxins in human food based on ATSDR research. Dr. Patricia Ruiz of the CompTox Lab develops and translates pharmacokinetic models—mathematical models that predict the levels of contaminants in human beings. Dr. Ruiz’s model, advice, and collaborative efforts with EFSA were crucial to the scientists who developed European guidelines about acceptable levels of dioxins in food. These new dietary guidelines are seven times lower than previously established levels.

Dr. Ruiz’s advancements in simulating exposures to environmental pollutants when people eat contaminated food are the basis of several recent publications. ATSDR will use her dioxins model at contaminated sites in the United States to evaluate pollutant levels in exposed communities.

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Page last reviewed: December 8, 2020