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Fundamentals and possibilities of classification of occupational substances as developmental toxicants

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Abstract

It is now widely accepted that describing and labeling of chemicals as developmental toxicants on a purely qualitative basis does not make sense. Agents possessing the potential to induce reproductive or developmental toxicity present a risk of human harm only under certain conditions. This critical fact cannot be properly communicated with a simple designation as “positive” or “negative”. Rather, a number of parameters that deal with dose or concentration, frequency, duration and route of exposure must also be conveyed. Unsubstantiated blacklisting is equally counterproductive for preventive medicine as downplaying of the toxicity of chemicals. Gender-based restrictions on exposure at workplaces of women of child-bearing age are neither socially acceptable nor scientifically justifiable. Therefore, the German Commission for the Investigation of Health Hazards of Chemical Compounds in the Work Area published in 1983 a quantitatively based classification concept, which became effective in 1985 and was modified in the following years. The present contribution summarizes what is required for an integrated judgment on the relevance of laboratory and epidemiological data for predicting the potential risk associated with exposure at workplaces to occupational chemicals. Methyl mercury, carbon disulfide, dimethylformamide, ethanol, toluene,N,N-dimethyl acetamide, nitrous oxide, methanol, ethyl benzene, and phosphorus pentoxide will be described as examples of classified substances.

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Hofmann, A. Fundamentals and possibilities of classification of occupational substances as developmental toxicants. Int. Arch Occup Environ Heath 67, 139–145 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00626344

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Key words

  • Developmental toxicants
  • Classification scheme