Statistical Approaches for Assessing Health Effects of Environmental Chemical Mixtures in Epidemiology Studies
In September, 2011, the NIEHS workshop entitled “Advancing Research on Mixtures: New Perspectives and Approaches for Predicting Adverse Human Health Effects” brought together experts from epidemiology, toxicology, exposure science, risk assessment, and statistics to identify key challenges in environmental chemical mixtures research and suggest approaches for addressing those challenges. This cross-disciplinary collaboration represents a necessary step in understanding the health effects associated with exposure to real-world mixtures. One important theme that emerged from the workshop was the need for development of novel statistical approaches and appropriate use of available statistical methods in the analysis of combined exposure data from epidemiological studies.
Analysis of exposure to environmental chemical mixtures is a well-known issue in environmental epidemiology, but the best methods for doing such analyses are not known. For example, environmental epidemiologists are typically faced with challenges such as: numerous potential exposures of interest; high degrees of correlation between some of these exposures; non-uniform data distributions; and a paucity of toxicologic data to use as guidance when constructing regression models of epidemiological data of exposure to mixtures. New methods for epidemiologic analysis of mixtures are being developed, but it is not known how well they perform or how they compare with conventional epidemiologic approaches such as analysis of effect measure modification or creation of simple exposure indices.
This current workshop will bring together mixtures experts (focusing on statisticians, epidemiologists, and toxicologists) with experience in developing and comparing experimental and statistical approaches to assess the human health effects of mixtures. Furthermore, the health effects associated with exposure to combined exposures are an important part of the NIEHS 2012-2017 Strategic Plan (i.e., Goal #4 Combined Exposures). The goals of this workshop are also critical to the NIEHS Superfund Research Program, which provides support for research that must address risk from the multiple contaminants found at contaminated sites. Please visit the website for additional information.