Agathokleous, E., Belz, R.G., Calatayud, V., De Marco, A., Hoshika, Y., Kitao, M., Saitanis, C.J., Sicard, P., Paoletti, E., Calabrese, E.J.
Science of the Total Environment 649: 61-74.
Publication year: 2019


The nature of the dose-response relationship in the low dose zone and how this concept may be used by regulatory agencies for science-based policy guidance and risk assessment practices are addressed here by using the effects of surface ozone (O3) on plants as a key example for dynamic ecosystems sustainability. This paper evaluates the current use of the linear non-threshold (LNT) dose-response model for O3. The LNT model has been typically applied in limited field studies which measured damage from high exposures, and used to estimate responses to lower concentrations. This risk assessment strategy ignores the possibility of biological acclimation to low doses of stressor agents. The upregulation of adaptive responses by low O3 concentrations typically yields pleiotropic responses, with some induced endpoints displaying hormetic-like biphasic dose-response relationships. Such observations recognize the need for risk assessment flexibility depending upon the endpoints measured, background responses, as well as possible dose-time compensatory responses. Regulatory modeling strategies would be significantly improved by the adoption of the hormetic dose response as a formal/routine risk assessment option based on its substantial support within the literature, capacity to describe the entire dose-response continuum, documented explanatory dose-dependent mechanisms, and flexibility to default to a threshold feature when background responses preclude application of biphasic dose responses.

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