Human toxicology

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Humans are exposed to chemical hazards through inhalation, consumption of water and food, and dermal contact. Human life today is highly non-natural, and it takes place predominantly in a man-made (built) environment which is different from the natural ecosystem. Human exposure is restricted to (mainly indoor) air, processed foods and beverages and to minor dermal contact. Occupational health protection gadgets and equipment prevent employees from absorbing hazardous chemical substances at the workplace. In addition to protective wear and equipment, the human organism is highly adaptive and capable of self-defense. But all of this is no help when people are highly exposed to chemical hazards, including new, emerging chemicals whose effects are not (yet) fully known. These effects are different from those of traditional toxicants and are not proportional to their concentrations or doses, and they cannot be measured using traditional toxicological methods. This chapter gives an overview of traditional toxicology, including acute and chronic toxicity, corrosivity, mutagenicity, carcinogenicity and reprotoxicity, as well as newly recognized chemical hazards such as sensitization, allergization, and endocrine and immune system disruption. In addition to traditional epidemiological studies and animal tests, alternative methods using molecules, cells or tissues instead of living animals will be discussed. Extrapolation methods from animal or alternative end points to humans and the associated uncertainties are also discussed because they are key factors in the utilization of human toxicity data for environmental management.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEngineering Tools for Environmental Risk Management
Subtitle of host publication2. Environmental Toxicology
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages46
ISBN (Electronic)9781315778778
ISBN (Print)9781138001558
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)

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  • Cite this

    Gruiz, K. (2015). Human toxicology. In Engineering Tools for Environmental Risk Management: 2. Environmental Toxicology (pp. 125-170). CRC Press.