Biomonitoring Equivalents for cyanide

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Abstract

Exposure to cyanide is widespread in human populations due to a variety of natural and anthropogenic sources. The potential health risks of excess cyanide exposure are dose-dependent and include effects on the thyroid, the male reproductive system, developmental effects, neuropathies and death. Many organizations have derived exposure guideline values for cyanide, which represent maximum recommended exposure levels for inhalation and oral routes of exposure. Biomonitoring Equivalents (BEs) are estimates of the average biomarker concentrations that correspond to these reference doses. Here, we determine BE values for cyanide. The literature on the pharmacokinetics of cyanide was reviewed to identify a biomarker of exposure. Despite issues with biomarker specificity, thiocyanate (SCN-) in the urine or plasma was identified as the most practical biomarker. BE values were produced that correspond to previously published critical effect levels. These BE values range from 0.0008 to 0.8mg/L and 0.0005–2.5mg/L for SCN- in urine and plasma, respectively. Confidence in these BE values varies, depending on route of exposure, biomarker, and health endpoint of interest. We anticipate that these BE values will be useful for lower tier (screening level) chemical risk assessment; however due to issues with biomarker specificity and uncertainty in background levels of SCN-, this approach requires refinement to be useful at higher tiers.

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