Sensitivity analysis of U.S. EPA's estimates of skin cancer risk from inorganic arsenic in drinking water

Kenneth G. Brown, Tsung Li Kuo, How Ran Guo, Louise M. Ryan, Charles O. Abernathy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA's) risk analysis on the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) for arsenic in drinking water is based on an epidemiological study of skin cancer in Taiwan. Assumptions used in the USEPA application of the multistage-Weibull model for risk estimation were varied to assess the effect on predicted risk of skin cancer to the U.S. population at arsenic concentrations of 1 to 50 μg/L in drinking water. Among the assumptions tested, the only notable change in risk estimates was a reduction when the arsenic concentration used as representative for Taiwan villages in the low range (<300 μg/L) was increased to the 75th percentile (245 μg/L) in place of the mean used in the USEPA analysis (170 μg/L), but the representative value for Taiwan villages in the high range (≥600 μg/L) was not increased simultaneously to the 75th percentile. Additionally, a simulation study was conducted using records of arsenic measurements in wells from the same period and region of Taiwan as the original study. The exposure-response curve estimated from 60 villages (60 data points) differed only marginally from the outcome when data were summarized into four data points (as in the USEPA skin cancer analysis). Briefly discussed are differences between the study area of Taiwan and the U.S. in nutritional status and consumption of inorganic arsenic in food that might bias predicted U.S. skin cancer risks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1055-1074
Number of pages20
JournalHuman and Ecological Risk Assessment (HERA)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecological Modelling
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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