NIOSH Sets Meeting on Carcinogens Classification

The Dec. 12 meeting in Washington, D.C., seeks stakeholders' comments on questions such as whether there should continue to be a carcinogen policy or, instead, a broader policy on toxicant identification and classification.

NIOSH has announced it will hold a public meeting Dec. 12 in Washington, D.C., to hear from stakeholders as it continues to review its Carcinogen Policy and recommended exposure limits related to carcinogens. The review, which began in 2010, is examining whether using the term Potential Occupational Carcinogen is too limiting and conveys too much uncertainty.

The meeting announcement said the public's input is sought on five questions:

  • Should there explicitly be a carcinogen policy as opposed to a broader policy on toxicant identification and classification (e.g., carcinogens, reproductive hazards, neurotoxic agents)?
  • What evidence should form the basis for determining that substances are carcinogens? How should these criteria correspond to nomenclature and categorizations (e.g., known, reasonably anticipated, etc.)?
  • Should 1 in 1,000 working lifetime risk (for persons occupationally exposed) be the target level for a recommended exposure limit for carcinogens, or should lower targets be considered?
  • In establishing NIOSH RELs, how should the phrase "to the extent feasible" (defined in the 1995 NIOSH Recommended Exposure Limit Policy) be interpreted and applied?
  • In the absence of data, what uncertainties or assumptions are appropriate for use in the development of RELs? What is the utility of a standard "action level" (i.e., an exposure limit set below the REL typically used to trigger risk management actions) and how should it be set? How should NIOSH address worker exposure to complex mixtures?

Comments also are being accepted until Dec. 30.

The agency notes that other organizations, including the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Toxicology Program, use a broader classification. "The revision of the NIOSH Carcinogen Policy also coincides with the international realization that there is a need for more efficient and quicker means of classifying chemicals," it says.

NIOSH expects to develop a report on the revised NIOSH Carcinogen and REL Policies that will be available in 2012.

For more information about NIOSH's plans, visit http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/enews/enewsV8N12.html.

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