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Experimental designs and risk assessment in combination toxicology: Panel discussion

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Author: Henschler, D. · Bolt, H.M. · Jonker, D. · Pieters, M.N. · Groten, J.P.
Institution: TNO Voeding
Source:Food and Chemical Toxicology, 11-12, 34, 1183-1185
Identifier: 233689
doi: doi:10.1016/S0278-6915(97)00097-5
Keywords: Toxicology · Chemical agent · Chemical interaction · Drug mixture · Methodology · Nomenclature · Nonhuman · Safety · Short survey · Hazardous Substances · Humans · Public Health · Research Design · Risk Assessment · Terminology · Toxicology


Advancing our knowledge on the toxicology of combined exposures to chemicals and implementation of this knowledge in guidelines for health risk assessment of such combined exposures are necessities dictated by the simple fact that humans are continuously exposed to a multitude of chemicals. A prerequisite for successful research and fruitful discussions on the toxicology of combined exposures (mixtures of chemicals) is the use of defined terminology implemented by an authoritative international body such as, for example, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) Toxicology Committee. The extreme complexity of mixture toxicology calls for new research methodologies to study interactive effects, taking into account limited resources. Of these methodologies, statistical designs and mathematical modelling of toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics seem to be most promising. Emphasis should be placed on low-dose modelling end experimental validation. The scientifically sound so-called bottom-up approach should be supplemented with more pragmatic approaches, focusing on selection of the most hazardous chemicals in a mixture and careful consideration of the mode of action and possible interactive effects of these chemicals. Pragmatic approaches may be of particular importance to study and evaluate complex mixtures; after identification of the 'top ten' (most risky) chemicals in the mixture they can be examined and evaluated as a defined (simple) chemical mixture. In setting exposure limits for individual chemicals, the use of an additional safety factor to compensate for potential increased risk due to simultaneous exposure to other chemicals, has no clear scientific justification. The use of such an additional factor is a political rather than a scientific choice.