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Vol. 29 No. 6
November-December 2007

IUPAC Wire | News and information on IUPAC, its fellows, and members organizations
See also www.iupac.org/news

Chemical Risk Assessment Methodology

The World Health Organization (WHO) International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) has published new information about its Project on Harmonization of Approaches to Assessment of Risk from Exposure to Chemicals (Harmonization Project). New materials include:

  • a brochure outlining a workplan of new activities on international harmonization of risk assessment methodologies
  • the August 2007 newsletter, providing updates on activities already underway
  • an updated strategic plan
  • the record of the 8th Harmonization Project Steering Committee

These documents and more detailed information on each of the activities already underway are accessible from the WHO project webpage at <www.who.int/ipcs/methods/harmonization/en>.
IPCS has also released the draft document Mutagenicity Testing for Chemical Risk Assessment for public review, with comments due by 23 November 2007. The document may be downloaded at <www.who.int/ipcs/methods/harmonization/areas/
mutagenicity_testing/en
>.

For more information, contact Carolyn Vickers at <vickersc@who.int>.

How does this relate to IUPAC?
Michel Mercier, the first director of IPCS, was a founding member of the former IUPAC Commission on Toxicology. Many of the original members had concerns about the toxicity of metals, an issue that continues to generate interest and that recently culminated in the IUPAC definition of “chemical speciation.” The definition is crucial to current developments that focus on the differential toxicity of the different chemical species of metallic elements. The current developments in turn, revealed a need to develop new analytical techniques to identify these species and to characterize exposures that may or may not be harmful. (see Pure Appl. Chem., Vol. 72, No. 8, pp. 1453–1470, 2000)
Following the IUPAC initiative on chemical speciation, a number of members of the former commission and the current Subcommittee on Toxicology and Risk Assessment contributed to a recent IPCS Environmental Health Criteria Document, EHC 234, Elemental Speciation in Human Health Risk Assessment (2006).
Interested in terminology, John H. Duffus (IUPAC Subcommittee on Toxicology and Risk Assessment; Edinburgh Centre for Toxicology), prepared a text on toxicology for IPCS courses; he discovered that the lack of an agreed upon terminology cost participants at international meetings a great deal of time—often as much as a day.


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