Research activities sought development of a method to adjust exposure limits for 694 substances for unusual work schedules. A consensus was established on the basic toxicological principle for adjustment; criteria for adjustment were selected by a panel of scientists coordinated by a committee of international experts and supported by toxicokinetic modeling; and a group of toxicologists attributed primary health effects and related adjustment category to each substance. A consensus among scientists and employers' and workers' representatives was established on the protocol of the application, in the field, of the adjusted exposure limits. The guiding toxicological principle for adjusting exposure standards to unusual work schedules is to guarantee an equivalent degree of protection for workers with unusual schedules as for workers with a conventional schedule of 8 hours per day, 5 days per week. The process of the adjustment is inspired from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration logic for attribution of primary health effects and adjustment categories ranging from no adjustment to daily or weekly adjustments. The adjusted exposure limits are calculated according to Haber's rule. Decisions on attribution of adjustment categories for the following toxicological effects were reached: respiratory sensitizers (asthma); skin sensitizers; tissue irritants versus tissue toxicants; methemoglobinenia-causing agents; cholinesterase inhibitors; and reproductive system toxicants and teratogens. A simple procedure is presented to facilitate the calculation, application, and interpretation of the adjusted exposure limits.
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