Exposure models

Consumer exposure arises from a large diversity of products that may contain chemical compounds. Since experimental data on consumer exposure are scarce or absent, various models have been developed to estimate exposure to chemicals in or released from consumer products.

Consumer exposure models can be categorized into various tiers. In general models with an higher tier are more complex and realistic models. The table below shows  a non-exhaustive list of exposure models and their associated tier.


Exposure models and their tiers.

Tier level

Exposure model

Tier one estimation


Tier 1.5



Habits and practices (AISE use descriptors)

 Higher tier estimation

HERA EA method (AISE)










The ECETOC tiered risk assessment (TRA) tool is, within the REACH guidance, the tiered (step by step) approach for calculating the exposure to and risks from chemicals that might reasonably be expected in defined circumstances of use. The ECETOC TRA Consumer Tool is a first (lower) tier tool that allows calculation of consumer exposures to substances that are present in preparations and articles used by consumers. http://www.ecetoc.org/tra.

An improvement of the ECETOC TRA consumer exposure tool has recently been published by the European Solvent Industry Group (ESIG). The ESIG Consumer Generic Exposure tool can be seen as a bridge between ECETOC TA (first tier) and ConsExpo (as higher tier). The refinement is produced in the TRA key factors.


A.I.S.E., the international Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products, is involved in various key activities with respect to REACH. One of the activities is the development of the A.I.S.E. REACT: Reach Exposure Assessment Consumer Tool. http://www.aise.eu/reach/?page=exposureass_sub3
Another activity of A.I.S.E, in cooperation with Cefic, is the HERA project, Human and Environmental Risk Assessment on ingredients of household cleaning products.


The British Aerosol Manufacturers Organisation (BAMA) has published on it’s website a tool for calculation of consumer inhalation exposure. An evaluation of this tool when compared to the ConsExpo spray model has been made by RIVM recently.
BAMA: http://www.bama.co.uk/


To mathematically predict human exposure to consumer products RIVM has developed the software model ConsExpo, a set of coherent, general models that enables the estimation and assessment of the exposure to substances from consumer products and their uptake by humans. It can be used within REACH for higher tier estimation of exposure. The ConsExpo model is freely available and can be downloaded from the library page for ConsExpo.


The DustEx model [link] is used to assess exposure to semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) from products that are introduced in the indoor environment. The typical products considered are solid material products (e.g. flooring, wall covering, electronic devices).  SVOCs are released from these products into indoor air. Depending on their physicochemical properties, these substances may subsequently adsorb to airborne particles, indoor surfaces and house dust.

Adults and children in the room are exposed to SVOCs by:

  • - inhalation of the substance in the gas phase,
  • - inhalation of substance bound to airborne particles,
  • - dermal absorption of the substance from air (gas phase) and
  • - oral ingestion of the substance with dust.

For SVOCs released indoors it may not be clear beforehand which of these pathway(s) will be relevant. The DustEx model calculates the daily average exposure to the substance via each of these four pathways. For this reason, DustEx enables a more complete assessment of exposure, reducing the probability of overlooking crucial pathways in the exposure assessment.

The DustEx model was developed by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment and ETH Zürich in the CEFIC LRI project B12 http://cefic-lri.org/projects/lri-b12-ethz-assessing-the-relevance-of-the-dust-contribution-in-consumer-exposure-to-substances-from-consumer-products-and-articles-dustex/

Other models

The Lifeline group is a non-profit organization bringing state-of-the-art science to contemporary challenges of assessing exposure, risk and benefits to elements of people's diets and living environment. The Lifeline group has created different software models for

  • Detailed exposure and risk/benefit assessment
  • Priority setting and screening assessments
  • Models of the body's dynamics and metrics

CEPST™ has evolved from the Complex Exposure Tool© (ComET©) that The LifeLine Group™ developed for Health Canada.  CEPST™ currently exists as a proof of concept modeling construct.  It demonstrates that for large groups of chemicals with little data and possibly multiple exposure scenarios, users can set priorities for chemicals relative to their exposure potential.

The RISKOFDERM Dermal Exposure Model is a model for estimating potential dermal exposure, i.e. the total amount of a substance coming into contact with the protective clothing, work clothing and exposed skin. It is developed by TNO and based on statistical analysis of data gathered in the RISKOFDERM project, a European project on dermal exposure. The model can be downloaded via the website of Eurofins, one of the project partners of the larger EU project in which RISKOFDERM has been developed (http://www.eurofins.com/product-testing-services/services/research--development/projects-on-skin-exposure-and-protection/riskofderm---skin-exposure-and-risk-assessment.aspx).



RIVM Committed to health and sustainability