Unit Toxicology of Active Substances and their Metabolites

The primary responsibility of the unit is the toxicological assessment of active substances in pesticides and microorganisms used in plant protection products or biocides.

Toxicological assessments are completed as a statutory task according to the laws on pesticides and chemicals within the context of the regulatory approval, licensing and assessment procedures for pesticides. This is carried out in line with the EU Regulations on plant protection products and biocidal products, as well as within the scope of stipulation and monitoring of maximum residue concentrations.

The active substances in pesticides and their metabolites must be regularly assessed with regard to the following main aspects:

  • Toxicokinetics/metabolism;
  • Acute toxicity, skin and eye irritation, sensitisation;
  • Sub-chronic toxicity;
  • Chronic toxicity/carcinogenicity;
  • Genotoxicity;
  • Reproduction toxicity, development toxicity;
  • Neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity and endocrine properties;
  • Toxicity of metabolites;
  • Observations in human beings.

The assessments lead to the establishment of toxicological limits for the active substances. At these levels no health impairment of the exposed individuals is to be expected.

  • ADI (Acceptable Daily Intake): limit value for the long-term exposure of the consumer through food
  • ARfD (Acute Reference Dose): limit value for the acute exposure of the consumer through food
  • AOEL (Acceptable Operator Exposure Level) or AEL (Acceptable Exposure Level): limit values for the exposure of the user and uninvolved third parties

Furthermore, the classification and labelling of the active substance is proposed on the basis of its toxicological properties.

Metabolites of these active substances are assessed in terms of their toxicological relevance in the soil, in the groundwater and in residues of foods of animal and plant origin.

Other key tasks of the unit are to provide scientific advice on questions related to the toxicological assessment of pesticides and participation in the drafting and further development of testing methods, testing and assessment strategies, and technical guidance documents of the EU or the OECD, in which the procedures for toxicological risk assessment are regulated.

The unit is also involved in research activities with emphasis on support for regulatory procedures, particularly in the fields of "combination effects" and "dermal absorption".

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