Revised Limits Ensure Safety

These constitute the set of recommendations for health protection in the workplace, following scientific examination. 60 changes and additions to the current list are proposed, with its maximum concentrations of substances in the air that do not have an impact on health (MAK Values), and the concentration of a substance in the body that a human being can be exposed to over a lifetime without suffering damage to health (BAT Values).

This year's recommendations also include the Biological Substance Reference Values (BAR Values). They define the "background exposure" of a substance in the body – as measurable in the blood, for example. The comparison – for example during biomonitoring in factories – of this "background exposure" with the measured exposure at the workplace reveals whether, or to what extent, a person has absorbed a substance through their work. The first BAR Values proposed are for example for trinitrotoluene – also known as TNT.

MAK Values aim to establish scientifically grounded values that will definitely protect against the negative effects of certain substances – as in the case of isoprene. The naturally occurring substance, even being produced in the human body, which is used for example for rubbers, is known to be a carcinogen and can modify germ cells. Following a comparison with the so-called endogenous concentration, the commission established a MAK Value: working with this does not increase the natural risk.

Aluminium and nine other substances received a new BAT Value. Also, the scientists examined whether a substance causes cancer, modifies germ cells and thus jeopardises reproduction, whether it can damage unborn babies or sensitises the skin or respiratory tract.

If no objections are returned to the Commission's Scientific Office, the Senate Commission adopts the proposed values as the basis for health and safety protection legislation in the workplace.; Source: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)