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Hum Exp Toxicol. 1997 Jun;16(6):289-304.

Evaluating chemical risks: results of a survey of the British Toxicology Society.


1. Members of the British Toxicology Society participated in a survey to determine their attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions regarding risks from chemicals. Similar surveys had previously been conducted with toxicologists and members of the general public in the United States and Canada. Data from 312 completed questionnaires were analyzed. 2. In general, the British toxicologists judged risks to be quite low for most hazards, with the exception of cigarette smoking and asbestos. They tended to have quite favorable attitudes toward the use of chemicals and were confident about the adequacy of chemical regulations. 3. As in previous studies of toxicologists, women expressed higher perceptions of risk than did men and had consistently stronger anti-chemical attitudes. 4. Toxicologists working in industry had more favorable attitudes towards chemicals and their use than did those working in academic settings. 5. When asked to evaluate chemical technical summaries of various animals studies there was considerable disagreement among the respondents about the toxicity of the chemicals involved. 6. In general, British toxicologists were equivocal about the reliability of animal studies in predicting human effects (particularly carcinogenicity) probably because of the belief that animal studies overestimate risk. However, they were rather confident that human health risks could be assessed reasonably accurately.

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