Measuring Environmental Degradation
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Measuring Environmental Degradation

Developing Pressure Indicators for Europe

Edited by Anil Markandya and Nick Dale

Measuring Environmental Degradation is a unique book that provides a comprehensive yet concise overview of the key issues of environmental significance addressed as part of the Eurostat ‘Environmental Pressure Indicators Project’. The book is part of the ‘Towards Environmental Pressure Indicators for the EU’ (TEPI) series that has resulted from the project.
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Chapter 25: Dissipation of toxics

H. Fiedler and O. Hutzinger


H. Fiedler and O. Hutzinger 1. INTRODUCTION As a result of our civilization, there exists a multitude of anthropogenic activities with severe impacts on the environment, ecosystems and humans. The environment also receives inputs from naturally occurring processes which may or may not release toxic compounds or severely damage the environment. Such processes include volcanic eruptions, forest fires, earthquakes, floods and hurricanes. Moreover, large amounts of organic compounds, including organochlorines, such as chloromethane (CH3Cl), are formed via enzymatic processes, found in foodstuffs (aflatoxins, botulinus toxin, indole3-carbazole) or formed during preparation of food (for example formation of nitrosamines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) or in consumer goods (for example nicotine and ethanol). Before establishing concepts, some definitions should be clarified, such as toxin, risk, adverse effect (damage), and the environment to be protected. 2. DEFINITION OF RISK Dose and Toxicity The old Paracelsus statement of 500 years ago is still valid. It is the dose that makes a chemical a toxin. Thus any chemical compound per se can be toxic to an organism above a critical concentration. As established by OECD, risk is defined as a function of dose and toxicity; or mathematically as: Risk = f (Dose, Toxicity) Although the toxic potency of a chemical is constant, the dose or the potential of exposure to man or the environment can be reduced, for example by legislation. Moreover, to control exposure of the general population or envi222 H. Fiedler and O. Hutzinger 223 ronment, limit values, guidelines and recommendations can...

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