Exposure Simulation

Exponent has conducted exposure simulations for a variety of client products for which no data are currently available on chemical emissions or transfer from the product to the user during product use or in some cases misuse. Exposure simulation is a process to assist in characterizing health risks by measuring chemicals or physical agents released to the environment under re-created current, future or historical conditions. Exposure simulation is a technical approach to filling exposure assessment data gaps using modern sampling and analytical methods and controlled conditions.

Exposure simulation studies have recently become popular in evaluating historical exposures, particularly to products that are no longer manufactured or commercially available, and where empirical measurements of chemical concentrations are inadequate or absent. In some of these cases, although industrial hygiene data may exist, these data are often limited due to outdated sampling methods or confounding factors often preventing interpretation of the data for a specific product. Exposure simulation also allows exposures to be evaluated under real use conditions prior to product market release under a variety of use and “misuse” conditions.

Exposure simulation allows a researcher to quantitatively bracket the range of possible concentrations to which an individual or population may have been or will be exposed by using actual measured data for activities or products rather than relying on mathematical modeling and/or extrapolations to understand exposures. In this way, exposure simulation is a direct approach to gathering relevant data and provides a more quantitative approach to characterizing the magnitude of exposures (see also Dose Reconstruction. Exposure simulation provides several benefits, including production of a substantial amount of relevant data based on the best available sampling and analytical methods; ease of describing the methods, sampling design, and relevance to future or historical exposure conditions; and ability to provide photo or video documentation of exposure conditions re-created and experienced during the simulation.

Exponent’s Specific Exposure Simulation Experience 

Exponent’s staff has conducted numerous exposure simulations for a variety of consumer products and chemicals including:


  • Ammonia in household cleaning products 
  • Asbestos in mastics and adhesives, phenolic molding compounds, roof coatings, cements, cosmetic body talc, joint compound, vinyl tile and automotive body fillers
  • Benzene in parts- and surface-washing solvents, adhesives and industrial products 
  • Cadmium in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) cables 
  • Ethylbenzene in marking pens 
  • Formaldehyde in personal care products 
  • Lead in PVC cables, poker chips, children’s toys, painted containers, brass objects, jewelry and a variety of other consumer products 
  • Odors in consumer appliances
  • Phthalates in PVC and consumer products
  • Silica in product construction materials 

Exposure Simulation Publications

Sheehan P, Kalmes R, Turnham P, Anderson E. Simulation study of potential historical user asbestos fiber exposure from cosmetic body talc use. Presented at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Expo, Montreal, Canada May 18-23, 2013.


Hollins DM, Kerger BD, Unice KM, Knutsen JS, Madl AK, Sahmel JE, Paustenbach DJ. Airborne benzene exposures from cleaning metal surfaces with small volumes of petroleum solvents. Int J Hyg Environ Health 2013; 216:324–332.

Brorby GP, Sheehan PJ, Berman DW, Bogen KT, Holm SE. Exposures from chrysotile-containing joint compound: evaluation of new model relating respirable dust to fiber concentrations. Risk Analysis 2013; 33(1):161-176.

Sheehan P, Mowat F, Weidling R, M Floyd. Simulation tests to assess occupational exposure to airborne asbestos from artificially weathered asphalt-based roofing products. Ann Occup Hyg 2010; 54(8):880–892. Corrigendum 2010; 55(7):827.

Sheehan P, Malzahn D, Goswami E, Mandel J. Simulation of benzene exposure during use of a mineral spirit solvent to clean elevator bearing housings. Human Ecol Risk Assess 2008; 14:421-432.

Malzahn D, Mowat F, Armstrong P. Simulation of asbestos release during dismantling of a residential sectional boiler. Accepted for presentation at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Expo (AIHce), Minneapolis, MN, June 2–5, 2008.

Mowat F, Weidling R, Sheehan P. Simulation tests to assess occupational exposure to airborne asbestos from asphalt-based roofing products. Ann Occup Hyg 2007; 51:451–462. 

Kalmes R. Evaluating Exposure to Chemicals in Consumer Product s- What does exposure and risk assessment really tell us. Presented at ICPHSO Annual Meeting and Training Symposium. February 2008.

Professionals