Quantitative Exposure Assessment for the Combustion of Meat and Bone Meal Derived from Specified Risk Material in the Context of BSE in Ireland

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Colgan, Shane F.;
  • Cummins, Enda J.;
  • Fry, D. John;
  • Grace, Patrick M.;
  • McDonnell, Kevin P.;
  • Ward, Shane M.


The probability and severity of an adverse event can be analyzed by quantitative exposure assessment (QEA). This methodology was applied to model the human health risks associated with the combustion of specified risk material (SRM) derived meat and bone meal (MBM) in a combustion facility. The identification of MBM and SRM as significant factors in the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) has resulted in restrictions on their use and movement, and this has led to a requirement for alternative end-uses for these products.

A stochastic (Latin Hypercube sampling) simulation model was developed to assess the exposure and hence the risks associated with the use of SRM-derived MBM in a combustion facility. The model simulates the potential infectivity pathways that SRM-derived MBM follows, including its production from animals potentially infected with sub-clinical BSE and subsequent processing of the material with segregation and heat treatments. A failure probability was included to take account of suboptimal operating conditions. Two scenarios, reflecting the infectivity risk in different animal tissues as defined by the European Commission's scientific steering committee (SSC), were performed with 100,000 iterations of the model.

Model results showed that the societal exposure to humans resulting from the combustion of SRM-derived MBM is extremely small (mean values ranging from 7.57 x 10-6 ID50/year to 8.38 x 10-5 ID50/year). The resulting societal risks are significantly less than the background societal risk of approximately 2.5 cases of sporadic CJD in Ireland each year. A sensitivity analysis revealed that the species barrier had a large impact on exposure calculations and hence should be the focus of further scientific investigation to reduce our uncertainty about this parameter. The model predicts that material spillage into untreated effluent represents the biggest risk to humans, indicating that efforts for risk mitigation should be focused on reducing the potential for spillage.

Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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