An approach to risk assessment

L. Simonsen, S. P. Lund, Ulla Hass

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


A strategy for delineating risk factors from use of neurotoxic chemicals was applied to the Danish working environment. An analysis using this strategy disclosed the need for internationally adopted criteria for neurotoxicity, and consequently a working group was established by the Nordic Council of Ministers with the task to propose criteria for neurotoxicity. Functional effects on the nervous system, such as reduction in memory and learning ability, decrease in attention, and alteration of behavior due to toxic chemicals in the environment is now being acknowledged as an important public health problem. This change in concern from obvious effects of high dose exposure to the more subtle effects of environmental exposure to neurotoxicants was incorporated in the criteria. The new criteria for evaluating neurotoxicity data has subsequently been used on 79 common industrial chemicals. The results indicate that numerous persons are exposed in the working as well as in the general environment to several chemicals, for which almost no data on the effect on subtle neurophysiological functions are available. Development of an approach to risk assessment dealing with this problem is a major challenge in the nineties. Different approaches to risk assessment are discussed, the quality of the databases available for hazard assessment are evaluated, and the needs for further research are identified. (C) 1996 Intox Press, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number3-4
Pages (from-to)815-824
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • risk assessment
  • hazard assessment
  • neurotoxicity criteria
  • occupational hazards
  • computer-based registers

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