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Environmental toxicology and human exposure

- a research area within the section MITO (Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology)


The coupling between environmental chemistry and toxicology

Environmental toxicology facilitates the section to address both the exposure side and the effect side of chemicals in the environment. By combining the two the section is able to answer the ‘so-what’ question following documentation of chemical exposures and can address larger risk related questions facing society in general.

In addition the work also concerns the epistemology of risk: deterministic; probabilistic; weight-of-evidence; thresholds; AOP, screening methods, etc.. Risk analysis further requires an appreciation of the regulatory context of the analysis which is also part of the research in the section to provide the most useful and relevant assessments.

The section works on a number of types of compounds in a risk context, including personal care compounds; dissipation products of munitions in marine environments; exposure modelling and public health risk assessment of carcinogens from natural back-ground exposures, as well as munition related materials. The toxicological properties are assessed experimentally with lower tier tests in the lab as well as via in silico QSAR models and computational database analyses.

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Human Exposure

Both nationally and internationally there is a growing recognition of the importance of hazardous substances for the human health. WHO has stated that more than 25% of the total costs of disease burden are related to chemically induced risks.  

The section’s research in this field addresses routes of exposure to contaminants from the environment to humans, including consumer products, the indoor environment and food. The work also deals with the uptake and accumulation of persistent organic pollutants in humans, which is taken further in studies of human biomonitoring. The research also includes risk scenarios on the basis of consumption and exposure to chemicals. The focus areas include flame retardants, perfluorinated compound. and munition residues.

The section participates in several international networks. Among these are the WHO chemicals risk assessment network ( http://www.who.int/ipcs/network/en/ ) with focus on human health, and the Health and Environmental Sciences Institute ( http: //hesiglobal.org/ ) focusing on risk analysis techniques and alternative methods to animal testing, and analyzes for Green Cross ( http://www.gcint.org/ ) regarding risk assessment of past military activities.