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  • Author: John H. Duffus x
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Over the past two decades, the term "heavy metals" has been widely used. It is often used as a group name for metals and semimetals (metalloids) that have been associated with contamination and potential toxicity or ecotoxicity. At the same time, legal regulations often specify a list of "heavy metals" to which they apply. Such lists differ from one set of regulations to another and the term is sometimes used without even specifying which "heavy metals" are covered. However, there is no authoritative definition to be found in the relevant literature. There is a tendency, unsupported by the facts, to assume that all so-called "heavy metals" and their compounds have highly toxic or ecotoxic properties. This has no basis in chemical or toxicological data. Thus, the term "heavy metals" is both meaningless and misleading. Even the term "metal" is commonly misused in both toxicological literature and in legislation to mean the pure metal and all the chemical species in which it may exist. This usage implies that the pure metal and all its compounds have the same physicochemical, biological, and toxicological properties, which is untrue. In order to avoid the use of the term "heavy metal", a new classification based on the periodic table is needed. Such a classification should reflect our understanding of the chemical basis of toxicity and allow toxic effects to be predicted.

Increasingly, chemists are faced with legislation requiring assessment of hazard and risk associated with the production, use, and disposal of chemicals. In addition, the general public are concerned about the dangers that they hear may result from the widespread use of chemicals. They look to the chemist for explanations and assume that chemists understand such matters. When they discover that chemists are often ignorant of the potential of chemicals to cause harm, their confidence in the profession is lost and chemophobia may result. In 1993, IUPAC agreed on a joint project between the Toxicology Commission and the Committee on Teaching of Chemistry to address the issue of the teaching of toxicology in the chemistry curriculum. Part of the project was a distance learning program, which is available through the Internet and on CD.1 The program currently consists of seven modules, one of which deals specifically with environmental toxicology. The contents of each unit will be explained as each has some input into environmental matters and green/sustainable chemistry. The program is aimed at teacher and student alike, and each module has self-assessment exercises at the end of the module. Additionally, there is material on health and safety, ethical matters, and a case study of the use of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT).

The objective of the "Explanatory Dictionary of Key Terms in Toxicology" is to give full explanations of the meaning of toxicological terms chosen for their importance and complexity from the point of merging chemistry and toxicology. This requires a full description of the underlying concepts, going beyond a normal dictionary definition. Often linguistic barriers lead to problems in obtaining a common understanding of terminology at the international level and between disciplines. The explanatory comments should help to break down such barriers. The dictionary consists of about 68 terms chosen from the IUPAC "Glossary of Terms Used in Toxicokinetics" organized under 22 main headings. The authors hope that among the groups which will find this explanatory dictionary helpful are chemists, pharmacologists, toxicologists, risk assessors, regulators, medical practitioners, regulatory authorities, and everyone with an interest in the relationship of chemistry to toxicology. It should also facilitate the use of chemistry in relation to risk assessment.

This glossary, a revision of the IUPAC "Glossary for Chemists of Terms Used in Toxicology" [Pure Appl. Chem. 65, 2003 (1993)] incorporating new and redefined terms from the "Glossary of Terms Used in Toxicokinetics" [Pure Appl. Chem. 76, 1033 (2004)], contains definitions and explanatory notes, if needed, for terms frequently used in the multidisciplinary field of toxicology. The glossary is compiled primarily for those scientists and others who now find themselves working in toxicology or requiring a knowledge of the subject, especially for hazard and risk assessment. Many medical terms are included because of their frequent occurrence in the toxicological literature. There are three annexes, one containing a list of abbreviations and acronyms used in toxicology, one containing a list of abbreviations and acronyms used by international bodies and by legislation relevant to toxicology and chemical safety, and one describing the classification of carcinogenicity according to the weight of evidence available.

The primary objective of this “Glossary of Terms Used in Immunotoxicology” is to give clear definitions for those who contribute to studies relevant to immunotoxicology but are not themselves immunologists. This applies especially to chemists who need to understand the literature of immunology without recourse to a multiplicity of other glossaries or dictionaries. The glossary includes terms related to basic and clinical immunology insofar as they are necessary for a self-contained document, and particularly terms related to diagnosing, measuring, and understanding effects of substances on the immune system. The glossary consists of about 1200 terms as primary alphabetical entries, and Annexes of common abbreviations, examples of chemicals with known effects on the immune system, autoantibodies in autoimmune disease, and therapeutic agents used in autoimmune disease and cancer. The authors hope that among the groups who will find this glossary helpful, in addition to chemists, are toxicologists, pharmacologists, medical practitioners, risk assessors, and regulatory authorities. In particular, it should facilitate the worldwide use of chemistry in relation to occupational and environmental risk assessment.

The objective of the “Explanatory Dictionary of Key Terms in Toxicology” is to give full explanations of the meaning and usage of toxicological terms chosen for their importance and complexity with regard to the merging of chemistry into toxicology. This requires a full description of the underlying concepts, going beyond a normal dictionary definition. Often linguistic barriers lead to problems in obtaining a common understanding of terminology at an international level and between disciplines. The explanatory comments should help to break down such barriers. This dictionary is a follow-up and continuation of part I published in 2007. It consists of a collection of terms chosen from the IUPAC “Glossary of Terms Used in Toxicology”. These terms are organized under 19 main headings. The authors hope that this explanatory dictionary will be helpful to chemists, pharmacologists, toxicologists, risk assessors, regulators, medical practitioners, regulatory authorities, and everyone with an interest in the application of chemistry to solving toxicological problems. It should be of particular value to those involved in risk assessment and management.

This paper reviews the methodology available for risk assessment of exposure to substances in the workplace. Assessment starts with the identification and classification of hazard, which must be related to the dose­effect and dose­response information available for the hazards identified. Once the potential for exposure has been characterized, it should be quantified and compared with an established safe exposure level. The degree to which it exceeds that level is a measure of the risk. Even if the assessed risk is regarded as acceptable, there is the possibility that the situation will change with time, so it is important to monitor potentially harmful exposures. Factors relevant to effective monitoring are reviewed. Addresses of Internet sites where further information may be obtained are listed along with further reading.

Abstract

The primary objective of this Glossary of Terms Used in Neurotoxicology is to give clear definitions for those who contribute to studies relevant to neurotoxicology, or must interpret them, but are not themselves neurotoxicologists, neuroscientists or physicians. This applies especially to chemists who need to understand the literature of neurotoxic effects of substances without recourse to a multiplicity of other glossaries or dictionaries. The Glossary includes terms related to basic and clinical neurology insofar as they are necessary for a self-contained document, and particularly terms related to diagnosing, measuring, and understanding effects of substances on the central and peripheral nervous systems. The glossary consists of about 800 terms as primary alphabetical entries, and includes Annexes of common abbreviations, and examples of chemicals with known effects on the nervous system. The authors hope that among the groups who will find this glossary helpful, in addition to chemists, are toxicologists, pharmacologists, medical practitioners, risk assessors, and regulatory authorities. In particular, it should facilitate the worldwide use of chemistry in relation to occupational and environmental risk assessment.

Abstract

The primary objective of this glossary is to give clear definitions for those who contribute to studies relevant to these disciplines, or who must interpret them, but are not themselves reproductive physiologists or physicians. This applies especially to chemists who need to understand the literature of reproductive and teratogenic effects of substances without recourse to a multiplicity of other glossaries or dictionaries. The glossary includes terms related to basic and clinical reproductive biology and teratogenesis, insofar as they are necessary for a self-contained document, particularly terms related to diagnosing, measuring, and understanding the effects of substances on the embryo, the fetus, and on the male and female reproductive systems. The glossary consists of about 1200 primary alphabetical entries and includes Annexes of common abbreviations and examples of chemicals with known effects on human reproduction and development. The authors hope that toxicologists, pharmacologists, medical practitioners, risk assessors, and regulatory authorities are among the groups who will find this glossary helpful, in addition to chemists. In particular, the glossary should facilitate the worldwide use of chemical terminology in relation to occupational and environmental risk assessment.