Development of Updated RfD and RfC Values for Medium Carbon Range Aromatic and Aliphatic Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon Fractions


Using total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) measurements as a tool for assessing potential human health risks associated with exposures to petroleum products in the environment poses unique challenges, as TPH represents highly variable and complex mixtures containing hundreds of individual chemicals with wide-ranging chemical and physical properties. Current risk assessment practice generally involves analysis of environmental samples for various TPH fractions and summation of risk across those fractions. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) derived provisional toxicity criteria for low, medium, and high carbon range aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbon fractions over a decade ago. These criteria have been used, in whole or in part, to derive risk-based cleanup levels for TPH contamination in soil and groundwater. Herein, we evaluate and update oral and inhalation toxicity criteria for two of these fractions-medium carbon range aromatics and aliphatics-using, where applicable, newer data, updated modeling techniques, and new/alternative analyses of certain endpoints, human relevance, and uncertainty. The results of the analyses support an ~10-fold increase in the USEPA provisional reference concentration (p-RfC) values from 0.1 mg/m3 to 1 mg/m3 for both medium carbon range aromatics (different uncertainty factor) and aliphatics (new study and different judgement of toxicity data from existing study). Compared to the USEPA provisional oral reference dose (p-RfD) values for the medium carbon range aromatics and aliphatics of 0.03 mg/kg-day and 0.01 mg/kg-day, respectively, the present analyses suggest the RfD for medium carbon range aromatics could be increased >6.6-fold to 0.2 mg/kg-day (updated modeling and different uncertainty factors), and the RfD for medium carbon range aliphatics could be increased ~20-fold to 0.2 mg/kg-day (new study). These updated toxicity criteria could be used by regulatory agencies to re-evaluate risk-based screening levels or by risk managers to support cleanup levels for medium carbon range aromatics and aliphatics, while still ensuring adequate health protection.

Authors: Chad M Thompson, Virunya S Bhat, Greg Brorby, Laurie C Haws
; Full Source: Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association (1995) 2021 Sep 1. doi: 10.1080/10962247.2021.1974123.