Exposure standards and guidelines are developed by governments to protect the public from harmful substances and activities that can cause serious health problems. This section describes standards and guidelines relating to protection from the toxic effects of chemicals only.
Exposure standards and guidelines are determined by risk management decisions. Risk assessments provide regulatory agencies with estimates of numbers of persons potentially harmed under specific exposure conditions. Regulatory agencies then propose exposure standards and guidelines designed to protect the public from "unacceptable risk" levels.
Exposure standards and guidelines usually provide numerical exposure levels for various media (such as food, consumer products, water, and air) that should not be exceeded. Alternatively, these standards may be preventive measures to reduce exposure (such as labeling, special ventilation, protective clothing and equipment, and medical monitoring).
Figure 1. Standards and guidelines protect the public from harmful substances
(Image Source: iStock Photos, ©)
More specifically, standards and guidelines for chemical exposure levels consist of the following:
Federal and state regulatory agencies have the authority to issue permissible exposure standards and guidelines in the following categories: