Biomonitoring Data for 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid in the United States and Canada: Interpretation in a Public Health Risk Assessment Context Using Biomonitoring Equivalents

Article excerpt

BACKGROUND: Several extensive studies of exposure to 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) using urinary concentrations in samples from the general population, farm applicators, and farm family members are now available. Reference doses (RfDs) exist for 2,4-D, and Biomonitoring Equivalents (BEs; concentrations in urine or plasma that are consistent with those RfDs) for 2,4-D have recently been derived and published.

OBJECTIVE: We reviewed the available biomonitoring data for 2,4-D from the United States and Canada and compared them with BE values to draw conclusions regarding the margin of safety for 2,4-D exposures within each population group.

DATA SOURCES: Data on urinary 2,4-D excretion in general and target populations from recent published studies are tabulated and the derivation of BE values for 2,4-D summarized.

Data SYNTHESIS: The biomonitoring data indicate margins of safety (ratio of BE value to biomarker concentration) of approximately 200 at the central tendency and 50 at the extremes in the general population. Median exposures for applicators and their family members during periods of use appear to be well within acute exposure guidance values.

CONCLUSIONS: Biomonitoring data from these studies indicate that current exposures to 2,4-D are below applicable exposure guidance values. This review demonstrates the value of biomonitoring data in assessing population exposures in the context of existing risk assessments using the BE approach. Risk managers can use this approach to integrate the available biomonitoring data into an overall assessment of current risk management practices for 2,4-D.

KEY WORDS: 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, biomonitoring, exposure biomarkers, exposure monitoring, risk assessment. Environ Health Perspect 118:177-181 (2010). doi:10.1289/ehp.0900970 available via [Online 12 August 2009]


Biomonitoring data for 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) in urine samples are now available from a number of studies of both the general population (including preschool-age children) and farm applicators and their family members [Alexander BH, et al. 2007; Arbuckle and Ritter 2005; Arbuckle et al. 2002, 2004, 2006; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2005; Morgan et al. 2008]. Such data provide an integrated measure of absorbed dose from all pathways and routes of exposure. The hazards of 2,4-D were recently assessed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA 2004) and the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA 2007). The U.S. EPA-derived reference doses (RfDs) for acute and chronic exposure to 2,4-D are based on external exposure metrics (administered dose), which are not directly useful for evaluating biomonitoring data. However, Biomonitoring Equivalent (BE) values corresponding to RfDs for acute and chronic exposure scenarios are now available (Aylward and Hays 2008) and can be used as a tool for assessing the biomonitoring data directly in a public health risk assessment context, without requiring calculation of corresponding external dose, as has previously been done (Mage et al. 2004). Here we review urinary biomonitoring data for 2,4-D from several studies in the general population and in farmers and farm family members and evaluates the data in the context of the BE values for 2,4-D presented by Aylward and Hays (2008) to assess the current margin of safety (ratio of exposure guidance value such as an RfD to exposure measures) for population exposures to 2,4-D in the United States and Canada.


Biomonitoring data. We used urinary biomonitoring data for 2,4-D from several studies of both general population adults and children and from studies of farmers and farm family members, as follows.

The National Center for Environmental Health of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC 2005) measured 2,4-D in urine samples collected from a complex, stratified random sample of the civilian, non-institutionalized population of the United States, 6-59 years of age, during 2001-2002, as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). …