Publications from the Carcinogenic Potency Project

Gold, L. S. Garfinkel, G. B., and Slone, T. H. Setting priorities among possible carcinogenic hazards in the workplace. In: Chemical Risk Assessment and Occupational Health: Current Applications, Limitations, and Future Prospects (C. M. Smith D. C. Christiani, and K. T. Kelsey, eds.)., Westport, CT: Auburn House, pp. 91-103, 1994.

One reasonable strategy for gaining a broad perspective on possible carcinogenic hazards in the workplace is to use a rough index to compare and rank possible hazards for rodent carcinogens that workers are exposed to. Ranking allows research and regulatory priorities to be set by focusing attention on those exposures that are highest in possible hazard. To rank permitted possible hazard, we use an index, PERP (Permitted Exposure/Rodent Potency), which expresses the worker permitted (PEL) lifetime exposure (mg/kg/day) as a percentage of the lifetime dose that induces tumors in 50% of rodents (TD50 in mg/kg/day). Three data sources are used in the analysis: The Carcinogenic Potency Database for carcinogenicity results in rodents, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for permitted exposures to workers (PEL), and the National Occupational Exposure Survey (NOES) of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for the estimated number of exposed workers. The PERP values for 75 rodent carcinogens to which workers are exposed differ by more than 100,000-fold from each other. For 9 chemicals the permitted worker exposure is greater than 10% of the tumorigenic dose rate in rodents (TD50), and for 27 it is between 1% and 10%. We identify 120 chemicals that require further attention because they have no OSHA PEL, workers are exposed to them, and they are rodent carcinogens. Data are presented for each of these 120 chemicals on carcinogenic potency in rodents and the NOES estimate of the number of exposed workers.

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Last updated: October 29, 1998

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