Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2003;29(5):347-353    pdf


Use of Monte Carlo simulation to investigate uncertainty in exposure modeling

by Semple SE, Proud LA, Cherrie JW

Objectives This study used Monte Carlo (MC) simulation to examine the influence of uncertainty on an exposure model and to determine whether a difference exists between two worker groups in a ceramic fiber manufacturing plant.

Methods Data on work practices and conditions were gathered in interviews with long-serving employees. With the use of previously developed deterministic modeling techniques and likely distributions for model parameters, MC simulations generated exposure profiles for the two job titles.

Results The exposure profiles overlapped considerably, although the average estimated exposure for one job was approximately double that of the other. However, when the correlation between the model parameters in the two jobs was considered, it was concluded that there was a significant difference in the two estimates.

Conclusions Models are increasingly being used to estimate exposure. Different work situations inevitably result in different exposure estimates. However, it is difficult to determine whether such differences in estimated exposure between worker groups are simply the result of uncertainty with respect to the model parameters or whether they reflect real differences between occupational groups. This study demonstrates the value of MC simulation in helping define the uncertainty in deterministic model estimates.

This article refers to the following text of the Journal: 2001;27(6):395-401