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Towards population-wide exposure assessment
  1. Dana Loomis
  1. Correspondence to Professor Dana Loomis, Department of Epidemiology, University of Nebraska, 984395 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska 68198, USA; dana.loomis{at}unmc.edu

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A paper by Lavoué et al1 in this month's issue is the latest addition to a long-running discussion—much of it in the pages of this journal—about the relative merits of different approaches to assessing exposure to occupational agents in community-based studies.2–6 At issue in the current paper is a comparison between a measurement-based general population job-exposure matrix (JEM) developed in one country and a semi-quantitative JEM derived from expert assessments done in a community case-control study in another country. The results, as might be expected, are mixed: exposure estimates from the two methods agree reasonably well for some agents, but don't agree for others. Similarly mixed results have been seen in other comparative studies (see Lavoué refs 12, 24). Such discrepancies are hardly surprising in light of the differences in time, place, exposure-assessment methodologies, and job-grouping schemes, but they are impossible to resolve, as the true exposures are …

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