The internet provides easy access to information on toxic substances in the work environment - often for free. The databases described below are selected with focus on the work environment – and high quality.
Specific health effects (asthma/allergy – cancer/genotox – reproductive health)
Miscellaneous (e.g. skin absorption, use of chemicals in Nordic countries (SPIN))
The World Wide Web changes continuously. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you know additional websites with toxicology data bases or come across a dead link.
Clear identification of the substance in question is the starting point for all toxicological searches. The CAS number, i.e. the substance’s unique number from the Chemical Abstracts Service, gives the best results. Searches for synonyms and commercial names are imprecise – you will only find information about the substances using that particular name. REMEMBER double-check that the resulting CAS number is correct, e.g. by means of physical-chemical data .
An extensive Chemical database with CAS numbers, synonyms, and physical-chemical data, plus links to sites with toxicological information, e.g. IARC.Also, the site provides three-dimensional illustrations of chemical structures.
For organic solvents (point 3.6) as listed by the Working Environment Authority in Denmark (in Danish). The remaining OELs appears in different annexes (in Danish)
As well as from several other European countries/institutions. The latter are based on available OEL lists from 2010/2011. The list does seem to be updated on a regular basis, but remember to check values against current national lists.
German MAK-values (maximale Arbeitsplatz-Konzentration=maximum concentration at the workplace)
Are available together with the thorough documentation that presents the basis for setting the values. Set by the German Commission for the Investigation of Health Hazards of Chemical Compounds in the Work Area.
Classification of Chemical substances
EU’s list of harmonised classifications and classification and labelling information on notified and registered substances received from manufacturers and importers.
A must for toxicological searches. Abstracted references of toxicologically relevant publications from more than 3 million references from e.g. Riskline, Biological Abstracts, NIOSH, part of PubMed, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, International Labor Office, Poisonous Plant Bibliography etc.
Searches among millions of papers in thousands of peer-reviewed biomedical journals, from 1953. PubMed does not include the criteria documents, that appear in Riskline. CAS numbers may be used, additional references may appear by use of synonyms. The number of hits may be limited to reviews (Limits > Publication Types > Review). A focused search may use specific search terms (publishing year, animal species, gender, etc.) and PubMed’s own technical search terms (MeSH: Medical Subject Headings), e.g. Occupational Exposure and Occupational Diseases. Some journals provide free electronic access to publications.
Searches among publications on reproductive and developmental toxicity.
Contains the Toxicological Profiles, written in a non-technical language. The profiles go through many aspects of more than 290 chemicals on a question and answer basis. Sensitive population groups are identified.
Determines health based occupational exposure limits. The underlying criteria documents are available in full, together with many other reports, among others on reproductive effects.
Information on chemicals, from the extensive Risk Assessment Reports (RAR) to the shorter IUCLID data sheets, and Classification and Labelling (Risk and Safety Phrases, Danger etc...). Type your CAS-number, and, on the resulting page, click on the underlined #EC - and access the available information. [from the European Union]
Records for more than 4500 potentially hazardous chemicals. Based on a wide range of source material with clear reference to the cited references. 15 subcategories including human health effects, emergency medical treatment, and animal toxicity studies.
Full access to several peer-reviewed toxicological reports incl. the Environmental Health Criteria monographs (EHC), Concise International Chemical Assessment Document (CICADs), and International Agency on Cancer (IARC) Summaries and Evaluations.
Monographs for more than 500 substances. The database focuses on estimation of exposure limits for different routes of exposure.
Criteria documents on chemicals providing a scientific basis for setting of occupational exposure limits (OELs). Access all documents in full by choosing “Documents” – if you search the site directly, the full documents may be downloaded through the “Show all documents”-list.
Performs studies of substances for several health effects, generally using rodent models for study and protocols specifically designed to fully characterize the toxic potential, incl. toxicology, carcinogenicity, mutagenecity, immunology, development and reproduction.
Fact sheets for almost 1500 substances. A result of the American state New Jersey’s “Right to know act” instructs all companies to inform their employees about hazardous chemicals in their working environment. The fact sheets tend to be more cautious than usual, and have the advantage that also less known effects are included which makes the reader aware of problems to be further examined!
Written for the people using the substances at their workplace. Sums up essential information about health effects and safety.
RTECS contains data extracted in short from the open scientific literature, arranged by six types of toxicity data, primary irritation, mutagenic effects, reproductive effects, tumorigenic effects, acute toxicity, and other multiple dose toxicity. Specific numeric toxicity values such as LD50, LC50, TDLo, and TCLo are noted as well as species studied and route of administration used. No peer-review - and you'll have to pay to access the database.
Several databases with thousands of MSDSs.
Links to more than 100 websites on the Internet with product data sheets.
The comprehensive reviews described above often addresses the different effect areas separately, e.g. carcinogenesis and reproductive health. Some toxicological databases are specifically allocated to certain areas of toxicological effects:
Asthma and immune effects
Performs studies of substances for effects on the immune system.
Cancer and genotoxicity
Evaluates the carcinogenic risk of chemicals to humans, based on all data on carcinogenicity and on specific exposure situations. The IARC monographs may be downloaded.
Contains genetic toxicology (mutagenicity) test data, resulting from expert peer review of the open scientific literature, on more than 3000 chemicals [US Environmental Protection Agency].
Potency in TD50 for 1500 chemicals based on 6000 long-term animal cancer tests, incl. description of study design and features of experimental protocol.
Is expert reviewed and contains more than 8000 chemical records with carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, tumor promotion, and tumor inhibition test results from primary journals, current awareness tools, NCI reports, and other special sources [US National Cancer Institute].
Performs studies of substances for carcinogenic and mutagenic effects.
Is a bibliographic database with particular emphasis on reproduction and developmental toxicology.
National Toxicology Program, NTP
Performs studies of substances for developmental effects.
Provides several criteria documents on effects on reproduction and recommendations for classification.
Sums information on the hazards of e.g. chemicals and drugs to human reproduction and development, based on human, animal, and in vitro data and cover every aspect of human reproduction including fertility, male exposure, and lactation. Unfortunately – you must pay to use it’s services.
EDETOX (Evaluations and Predictions of Dermal Absorption of Toxic Chemicals)
Has been produced from more than 2400 in vivo and in vitro percutaneous penetration studies, compiled from the published literature. The database was concluded in 2005.
Use of chemicals
SPIN (Substances in Preparations in the Nordic Countries)
Contains information on the use and quantity of chemical substances in each of the Nordic countries. Nordic legislation requires manufacturers and importers of chemical substances and preparations (products) to declare information on quantity, function, type of industry, composition, etc. SPIN contains info on 20.000+ substances. Number of products containing each substance and annual volumes are given in total, and distributed to use categories for product types and industrial areas. (Press the button “Guide” for guidance).
Links between job task and chemical exposure
Haz-Map is an occupational toxicology database designed to link jobs with hazardous job tasks, which then are linked to occupational diseases and their symptoms. More than 1100 chemical and biological agents in the database are linked to industrial processes and non-occupational activities. Linkage indicates the potential for exposure to the agent.
Links to links
Hardin Library for the Health Sciences
The library contains links to lists of links. All lists are organized by medical subject headings – try e.g. Occupational Health, Poisoning, or Toxicology.