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Publicly Available Published by De Gruyter August 6, 2018

Comprehensive Glossary of Terms Used in Toxicology

  • John Duffus , Douglas M. Templeton and Michael Schwenk
From the journal Chemistry International

IUPAC, 2017 published by the Royal Society of Chemistry,

ISBN: 978-1-78262-137-9,

This book represents the culmination, or at least a resting point, in the long-term project that has resulted in five glossaries published as IUPAC Recommendations in Pure and Applied Chemistry (see IUPAC project 2013-006-1-700 for references). The project was initiated in 1989 by the IUPAC Commission on Toxicology to provide a glossary of definitions of terms used in toxicology. The impetus was the recognition that toxic substances (and indeed all substances) are ‘‘chemicals’’, and that there is a need for chemists to understand the mechanisms of toxicity of the substances with which they deal. Both industrial and academic research chemists are faced with an ever-increasing burden in ensuring a safe environment. Even those who may not be trained as chemists must use chemical and toxicological principles in formulating and enforcing legislation introduced to ensure the safe handling of substances throughout their life cycle. Thus, there is a need for an unambiguous vocabulary of terms, both for specialist interpretation of the relevant literature and for warning about hazards and risks that must be controlled and eliminated or minimized.

The starting point of the project was a general glossary of terms in toxicology that collected relevant terms from a variety of sources and revised many of them, with contributions from specialists covering the wide range of knowledge required. IUPAC specialists in terminology advised on the details and the presentation of terms and definitions. The resulting glossary was submitted to Pure and Applied Chemistry for publication following the normal refereeing process for an IUPAC Recommendation [1]. This procedure has been the foundation for future glossary development.

The original glossary was followed by a glossary of terms in toxicokinetics [2]. These two glossaries were later combined and revised, taking into account more recent developments in toxicological science and regulatory activity. Thereafter, it became clear that there were gaps in the coverage of terms related to specialized aspects of toxicology that were becoming increasingly important in their own right. These areas of toxicology were covered in new IUPAC glossaries of the terms used in ecotoxicology, immunotoxicology, neurotoxicology, and reproductive toxicology and teratology. This book consolidates all of these documents and expands their contents with additional terms either newly introduced in toxicology or whose absence in the previous publications we felt should be addressed.

In a compilation of terms that intends to be anything short of a complete word list of the language, decisions of inclusion and exclusion must be made. The vocabulary of toxicology necessarily overlaps with those of medicine, physiology, biochemistry, and ecology, to name a few, and this takes us on occasion into the more specialized realms of cognate disciplines such as anatomy, histology, immunology, neuroscience, molecular biology, epidemiology, and population biology. The authors have also included a number of terms in regulatory toxicology and jurisdictional matters relating to harmful substances. The aim has been to provide a one-stop glossary of terms commonly used in toxicology so that chemists reading the toxicological literature will not often need to consult secondary sources in order to understand terms with which they are unfamiliar. Notes are included for many terms; these are not intended to be encyclopedic, but rather to provide clarification or remove ambiguity when a strict definition may not be entirely clear.

Reproduced in part from the book preface



1. J. Duffus. Glossary for chemists of terms used in toxicology (IUPAC Recommendations 1993). Pure and Applied Chemistry. 1993, 65(9):2003-2122. in Google Scholar

2. M. Nordberg, J. Duffus, and D.M. Templeton. Glossary of terms used in toxicokinetics (IUPAC Recommendations 2003). Pure and Applied Chemistry. 2004, 76(5):1033-1082. in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2018-08-06
Published in Print: 2018-07-01

©2018 IUPAC & De Gruyter. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. For more information, please visit:

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