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A biomathematical model of particle clearance and retention in the lungs of coal miners. II. Evaluation of variability and uncertainty.

Kuempel-ED; Tran-CL; Smith-RJ; Bailer-AJ
Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 2001 Aug; 34(1):88-101
The objective of this study is to investigate the sources of variability and uncertainty in a previously developed human lung dosimetry model. That three-compartment model describes the retention and clearance kinetics of respirable particles in the gas-exchange region of the lungs. It was calibrated using exposure histories and lung dust burden data in U.S. coal miners. A multivariate parameter estimation and optimization method was developed for fitting the dosimetry model to these human data. Models with various assumptions about overloading of alveolar clearance and interstitialization (sequestration) of particles were evaluated. Variability in the estimated clearance rate coefficients was assessed empirically by fitting the model to groups' and to each miner's data. Distributions of lung and lymph node particle burdens were computed at working lifetime exposures, using the variability in the estimated individual clearance rate coefficients. These findings confirm those of the earlier analysis; i.e., the best-fitting exposure-dose model to these data has substantial interstitialization/sequestration of particles and no dose-dependent decline in alveolar clearance. Among miners with different characteristics for smoking, disease, and race, the group median estimated alveolar clearance rate coefficients varied by a factor of approximately 4. Adjustment for these group differences provided some improvement in the dosimetry model fit to all miners (up to 25% reduction in MSE), although unexplained interindividual differences made up the largest source of variability. The predicted mean lung and lymph node particle burdens at age 75 after exposure to respirable coal mine dust at 2 mg/m(2) for a 45-year working lifetime were 12 g (5th and 95th percentiles, 3.0-26 g) and 1.9 g (0.26-5.3), respectively. This study provides quantitative information on variability in particle retention and clearance kinetics in humans. It is useful for risk assessment by providing estimated lung dust burdens associated with occupational exposure to respirable particles.
Mathematical-models; Coal-miners; Coal-mining; Miners; Mining-industry; Airborne-particles; Lung-burden; Lung-disease; Models; Respirable-dust; Coal-dust; Dusts; Dust-particles; Dust-exposure; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Respiratory-system-disorders; Occupational-exposure; Risk-analysis; Risk-factors
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Journal Article
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NIOSH Division
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Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology