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14.4 Dietary intakes

Estimates are required of the intakes or exposures associated with each health effect, in each scenario (reference and alternative). Intake must be expressed in the same units as the dose-response relationship for the health effect. Often this will be expressed as daily intake of a specified nutrient or contaminant, e.g. in mg/kg bw/day. In other cases, the dose-response relationship may instead be expressed in terms of weight or portions per day of a specified food type (e.g. fish), in which case intakes must be expressed in the same units.

Note that the estimates of dietary intake should refer to the period of exposure that is relevant to the occurrence of the effect at the current age of the individual under consideration. This is not necessarily the intake at the current age. For chronic effects, it is the habitual long-term intake for each dietary scenario (ignoring the period of transition between the two, which is not considered in the directly attributable health loss method). For effects in offspring, it will be the intake of the mother during the relevant time period. For acute effects it might be, for example, the maximum one-day intake experienced during the year, but this will require consideration case-by-case.

For simple calculations based on a single individual, only a single value for intake is required (e.g. average intake, or other choices depending on the needs of the assessment, e.g. best case or worst case). For calculations with more than one individual, a separate exposure value is required for each individual (e.g. this could be estimated intakes generated by probabilistic exposure models such as those provided on the MCRA platform [4] ). Note that the intakes for the reference and alternative scenarios should relate to the same sample of individuals. The Qalibra software requires that these individuals and their intakes appear in the same order in the input data for both scenarios, so that the change in health between the two scenarios can be calculated for each individual.

Often, intakes of different foods or substances in the same assessment will be correlated (e.g. fish intake may be correlated with methyl mercury intake). Where such correlations exist, these should be represented appropriately in the input data (e.g. the fish intake for individual X should be consistent with the MeHg intake for the same individual).