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Layton David W.
Health Physics: January 1993
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Assessments of doses resulting from exposures to airborne gases and particles are based almost exclusively on inhalation rates that are inconsistent with the quantities of oxygen needed to metabolize dietary intakes of fats, carbohydrates, and protein. This inconsistency leads to erroneous estimates of inhalation exposures and can distort the relative importance of inhalation and ingestion-based exposures to environmental contaminants that are present in foods, air, and water. As a means of dealing with this problem, a new methodology for estimating breathing rates is presented that is based on the oxygen uptake associated with energy expenditures and a ventilatory equivalent that relates minute volume to oxygen uptake. Three alternative energy-based approaches for estimating daily inhalation rates are examined: (1) average daily intakes of food energy from dietary surveys, adjusted for under reporting of foods; (2) average daily energy expenditure calculated from ratios of total daily expenditure to basal metabolism; and (3) daily energy expenditures determined from a time-activity survey. Under the first two approaches, inhalation rates for adult females in different age cohorts ranged from 9.7 to 11 m3 d−1, whereas for adult males the range was 13 to 17 m3 d−1. Inhalation rates for adults determined from activity patterns were higher (i.e., 13 to 18 m3 d−1), however, those rates were shown to be quite sensitive to the energy expenditures used to represent light and sedentary activities. In contrast to the above estimates, the ICRP 23 reference values for adult females and males are 21 and 23 m3 d−1 (Snyder et al. 1975). Finally, the paper provides a technique for determining the short-term breathing rates of individuals based on their basal metabolic rate and level of physical activity.

©1993Health Physics Society