33 results for author: TEF


Hazard vs Risk

Many people find it confusing when toxicologists and others talk about hazard versus risk.  To many, they seem to mean the same thing.  They don’t, and assuming they do can lead people to unnecessarily fear ingredients and other chemicals.  This tox topic is intended to help you understand the differences between hazard and risk and why knowing the difference is important to your health and your effort to keep yourself and your family safe from harmful exposures. Let’s start with definitions. Hazard:  A potential source of danger/harm.  A hazard evaluation in toxicology focuses on defining what types of harmful effects could occur and ...

Human Health Risk Assessment

The woman in this photo may not know she risks harming her unborn baby's health by smoking while pregnant. Or she understands that, but she is taking that risk because she is addicted to smoking cigarettes.  Risk assessments are applied to many things we encounter in our daily lives including life-saving drugs, food additives, cosmetics, household cleaning products, pesticide residues in foods, and countless other environmental agents.   This Tox Topic briefly explains some basics of human health risk assessment.   TEF’s “Is It Safe? Evaluating Chemical Risk” primer also offers tips on how an individual can undertake their own informal ...

What is Toxicology?

The Society of Toxicology defines toxicology as the study of the adverse effects of chemical, physical, or biological agents on people, animals, and the environment.  Toxicologists are scientists trained to investigate, interpret, and communicate the nature of those effects.   Most toxicologists focus on chemical agents, although some are experts about harmful effects of physical agents such as radiation.  Toxicology is an interdisciplinary science, integrating information from biology and virtually all of its subspecialties (e.g., genetics, endocrinology and molecular biology) as well as math, physics and chemistry and its subspecialties (e.g. ...

Occupational Safety and Health

Anyone that has been in a high school chemistry laboratory has no doubt noticed the numerous postings stressing laboratory safety.  While there are both physical and chemical hazards in these laboratories, it’s toxicologists that provide information involving hazardous chemicals.  The chemistry lab is a short term experience for the student, but it’s the workplace for the instructor.  Indeed, potentially hazardous chemicals are used in many workplaces. In 1973, Stellman and Daum called the “workplace” a battleground in the war against poisonous chemicals and dangerous working conditions.  Chemical hazards can involve any number of ...

Worried about the measles outbreak and the safety of vaccines?

The National Acadamies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine have recently established a vaccine safety website that provides clear, concise, and evidence-based answers to questions about vaccine safety.  It’s a must read if you have concerns.  We also encourage you to share it with others that may have similar concerns.

Exposures During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding

The Toxicology Education Foundation is pleased to be partnering with MotherToBaby/California to expand access to information about medications and other exposures during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.  MotherToBaby (https://mothertobaby.org/) is a service of the non-profit Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) dedicated to providing evidence-based information to mothers, health care professionals, and the general public.  OTIS experts create well-referenced Fact Sheets offered in English and Spanish that focus on frequently asked questions about a great variety of subjects related to pregnancy and breastfeeding.  Select ...

Pesticides: The Challenge of Controlling Pests When Balancing Safety with Effectiveness

First let's define pest.  A pest can be almost any living thing considered by us, humans, to be undesirable; for example, insects, rats, mice and other animals, plants, fungi, bacteria, and viruses.  Even deer, when they go after your shrubs or vegetable garden, can be considered nuisance animals or pests.  The challenge of pesticide use is to maximize their effectiveness against pests while minimizing their hazards to humans, other animals, and the environment. As with most complex issues, there are bound to be tradeoffs. OK, so what is a pesticide? A pesticide as defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency is “Any substance or ...

“Is It Safe?” Video – English with Korean subtitles

NEW! TEF offers its Aurora Award-winning "Is It Safe?" video in several major languages, the most recently produced with Korean subtitles. TEF provides audiovisual materials like this for the public and for health professionals to use in presentations to the public in partnership with NIEHS and others in the private sector. The goal of "Is It Safe?" is to empower the public to make good decisions about risk associated with every day products.  

Dietary Supplements

A well balanced diet often satisfies your body’s needs, yet nutritional deficiencies can still occur in people maintaining a healthy diet.    This discussion is intended as a first look at some tips for consumers seeking reliable information about dietary supplements, whether or not these products have been recommended by a health professional.  Awareness of at least a few key points to remember and recommended resources for those choosing such products are the soundest advice we can offer. Some definitions and other background information  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) definition of dietary supplements is products intended ...

History of Toxicology

Paracelsus, pictured here, was a 16th century physician and is considered to be the “Father of Toxicology.”  Toxicology as a distinct scientific discipline is fairly modern; however, knowledge of poisons and poisoning incidents date back to ancient times.  Humankind’s desire to assure its health and safety has always been present, but drawing conclusions about harmful chemicals required learning.  Initially this was done by trial and error, where substances were tested to see which were safe and which were best avoided.  Written documents dating back to around 450 BCE have been recovered that describe the toxicity of venom released in a ...