Ames, B.N., Magaw, R., and Gold, L.S. Ranking possible
carcinogenic hazards. Science 236: 271-280 (1987). Letters:
237: 235 (1987); 237: 1283-1284 (1987); 237: 1399-1400 (1987); 238:
1633-1634 (1987). PDF
Reprinted in: The Risk Assessment of Environmental and Human Health Hazards (D. J. Paustenbach, ed.), New York: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 1082-1104 (1989).
This review discusses reasons why animal cancer tests cannot be used to predict absolute human risks. Such tests, however, may be used to indicate that some chemicals might be of greater concern than others. Possible hazards to humans from a variety of rodent carcinogens are ranked by an index that relates the potency of each carcinogen in rodents to the exposure in humans. This ranking suggests that carcinogenic hazards from current levels of pesticide residues or water pollution are likely to be of minimal concern relative to the background levels of natural substances, though one cannot say whether these natural exposures are likely to be of major or minor importance.
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