For Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists, understanding exposure to chemicals is an important consideration in how they assess risks to human health. One piece of data required for studying human exposure is a record of an individual’s daily activities, including where they’re spending their time. Traditionally, researchers have relied on surveying people about their daily activities but collecting enough data this way can be a challenge. Surveys also can’t capture information that people aren’t aware of (like consumer products being used by people nearby) or information that’s too time-consuming to report (like the amounts of all consumer products used in a given day).
EPA researchers have proposed an alternative to relying on human activity surveys by creating a method that models human behaviors using artificial intelligence (AI). Their new method incorporates an “agent-based model” into a “needs-based” AI program, which allows scientists to mimic human decision-making for behaviors that might affect our exposure to chemicals.