Monday, October 6, 2014

Toward Better Toxicological Benchmarks, that is, Better OELs

Sometimes we give interviews to folks in the press and the message that is printed is different from the message that we provided.   This did not happen in the subject article.   Not only was it not distorted, it was expertly woven into a coherent story given a broad base of other input.  It was written by Ed Rutkowski (Editor in Chief of the AIHA Synergist) who is obviously a good thinker and brilliant writer.   He interviewed me and a number of colleagues on the general subject of occupational exposure limits (OELs).    Even though the subject is filled with technical and political nuance, Ed did a masterful job of putting it all together into a very coherent picture. 

I am reproducing below the 3 side-bar extracted quotes from the piece to whet your appetite and encourage you to download it.

“People can actually look at [RBOELs] and get some idea of the quantitative risk and, perhaps more importantly, the uncertainty around that prediction.”  

“One of the fundamental challenges for the industrial hygiene profession moving forward is to help practitioners answer the question, ‘Which OEL should I use?’”

“Understanding and communicating the uncertainty around those predicted risks and trying to be more open scientifically about what we know and don’t know, would be big steps forward.”

The article is free to all online.  All you have to do is put the following into a Google search in either Chrome or Internet Explorer:

“synergist supplement september 2014 benchmarks 22-23” 

In my experience, you will not find a better explanation of the current state of OELs.

Dr. Jimmy Perkins and I have been working on an initiative to get the dialog on OEL development moving forward.   We call it (after a name provided by Frank Hearl) Risk@OEL.    Other work in my one-man shop on worthy projects has caused me to drop the ball on this temporarily this summer but I hope to pick it up again later this year or early next year.   It will definitely be the topic of future blogs.   In the meantime, I would love to hear back from you, before or after you read the article, on:

How you see the current state-of-the-science or state-of-affairs related to the OELs we use in the IH community in our efforts to gauge the risk of the actual exposures we measure or estimate? 

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