Health effects of chemical products.


An outline is given of the data on human health effects that are needed as a foundation for the administration of legislation on chemical substances and products. Danish data on mortality and morbidity from acute poisoning and some published clinical studies are presented. Serious problems may persist in subgroups of the population and the prevention of acute poisoning is still a basic aim of this legislation. Allergic reactions to chemicals are discussed. Not all sensitized individuals can be protected but steps should be taken to prevent contact with the sensitizing agents that are of the greatest public health importance. Chronic health effects following exposure to chemicals have influenced the recent strengthening of regulations but carcinogenic risks especially are extremely difficult for administrative and political systems to handle in an approximately rational way. While we are reducing the use of suspected carcinogenic chemicals our populations must, however, be given a greater appreciation of the cancer risk problem, particularly the fact that we cannot eliminate all cancer risks. Biological monitoring of human populations is a necessary supplement to the traditional registration of diseases as part of our health surveillance systems. Fortunately our societies have been able to pay increasing attention to the long-term public health consequences of exposures to chemical factors in our environment.


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