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Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2002 Dec;36(3):253-61.

Prediction of local irritant effects after repeated dermal and respiratory exposure to chemicals.

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Department of Toxicological Risk Assessment, TNO Chemistry, P.O. Box 360, NL-3700 AJ Zeist, The Netherlands.


Health risks resulting from occupational exposure to chemicals are controlled by the establishment of acceptable dermal and respiratory exposure levels. Due to a lack of route-specific toxicity data, acceptable levels are frequently established by means of route-to-route extrapolation. A pitfall in route-to-route extrapolation is the occurrence of local effects. Often, the results of acute irritation studies are used to assess the likelihood of the occurrence of local effects also following repeated exposure and thereby the validity of route-to-route extrapolation. We questioned this working practice and considered whether local effects observed in a given study are of any predictive value with respect to the occurrence of local effects after repeated exposure. Our database analysis indicates that substances inducing skin and/or eye irritation frequently induce local effects after repeated respiratory exposure. In contrast, observations made in any type of study show little or no positive predictive value for the occurrence of local effects after repeated dermal exposure. Notably, the absence of any indication of local effects in any type of study does not exclude the occurrence of local effects on repeated dermal or respiratory exposure. We conclude that the presumed reliability of route-to-route extrapolation in the absence of route-specific toxicity data can be questioned.

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