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The fundamental principle in regulatory toxicology is that all chemicals are toxic and that the severity of effect is proportional to the exposure level. An ancillary assumption is that there are no effects at exposures below the lowest observed adverse effect level (LOAEL), either because no effects exist or because they are not statistically resolvable, implying that they would not be adverse. Chemicals that interfere with hormones violate these principles in two important ways: dose-response relationships can be non-monotonic, which have been reported in hundreds of studies of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs); and effects are often observed below the LOAEL, including all environmental epidemiological studies examining EDCs. In recognition of the importance of this issue, Lagarde et al. have published the first proposal to qualitatively assess non-monotonic dose response (NMDR) relationships for use in risk assessments. Their proposal represents a significant step forward in the evaluation of complex datasets for use in risk assessments. Here, we comment on three elements of the Lagarde proposal that we feel need to be assessed more critically and present our arguments: 1) the use of Klimisch scores to evaluate study quality, 2) the concept of evaluating study quality without topical experts' knowledge and opinions, and 3) the requirement of establishing the biological plausibility of an NMDR before consideration for use in risk assessment. We present evidence-based logical arguments that 1) the use of the Klimisch score should be abandoned for assessing study quality; 2) evaluating study quality requires experts in the specific field; and 3) an understanding of mechanisms should not be required to accept observable, statistically valid phenomena. It is our hope to contribute to the important and ongoing debate about the impact of NMDRs on risk assessment with positive suggestions.
Zoeller, R. T., & Vandenberg, L. N. (2015, May 15). Assessing dose-response relationships for endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs): A focus on non-monotonicity. Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source. BioMed Central Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12940-015-0029-4