Maximum workplace concentration values and carcinogenicity classification for mixtures

R. Bartsch, S. Forderkunz, U. Reuter, H. Sterzl-Eckert, H. Greim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In Germany, the Commission of the Investigation of Health Hazards of Chemical Compounds in the Work Area (MAK Commission) generally sets maximum workplace concentration values (i.e., a proposed occupational exposure level [OEL]) of single substances, not for mixtures. For mixtures containing substances with a genotoxic and carcinogenic potential, the commission considered it scientifically inappropriate to establish a safe threshold. This approach is currently under discussion. Carcinogenic mixtures are categorized according to either the carcinogenicity of the mixture or the classification of the carcinogenic substances included. In regulating exposure to mixtures, an approach similar to that used by the American Conference of Governmental Hygienists is proposed: For components with the same target organ and mode of action or interfering metabolism, synergistic effects must be expected and the respective OELs must be lowered. However, if there is proof that the components act independently, the OELs of the individual compounds are not considered to be modified. In the view of the commission, calculating OELs for solvent mixtures according to their liquid phase composition is not justified, and the setting of scientifically based OELs for complex mixtures is not possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1291-1293
Number of pages3
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue numberSUPPL. 6
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Carcinogenicity
  • Classification
  • MAK
  • Mixtures
  • Occupational exposure levels
  • Regulatory
  • Workplace concentrations


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