Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
The effectiveness of a probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) depends on the quality and relevance of the output from exposure and risk models, which, in turn, depends on the critical inputs to the assessment. These critical inputs are often in the form of probabilistic exposure factor distributions that are derived for the given risk scenario. Deriving probabilistic distributions for model inputs can be time consuming and subjective. The absence of a standard approach for developing these distributions can result in PRAs that are inconsistent and difficult to review by regulatory agencies. We present an approach that reduces subjectivity in the distribution development process without limiting the flexibility needed to prepare relevant PRAs. The approach requires two steps. First, we analyze data pooled at a population scale to (i) identify the most robust demographic descriptors within the population for a given exposure factor, (ii) partition the data into subsets based on these variables, and (iii) construct archetypal distributions for each subpopulation. Second, we sample from these archetypal distributions according to site- or scenario-specific conditions to simulate exposure factor values and use these values to construct the scenario-specific input distribution. The archetypal distributions developed through Step 1 provide a consistent basis for developing scenario-specific distributions so risk assessors will not have to repeatedly collect and analyze raw data for each new assessment. We demonstrate the approach for two commonly used exposure factors—body weight (BW) and exposure duration (ED)—using data that are representative of the U.S. population. For these factors we provide a first set of subpopulation-based archetypal distributions and demonstrate methods for using these distributions to construct relevant scenario-specific probabilistic exposure factor distributions.
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