Towards the development of a multidisciplinary understanding of the effects of toxic chemical mixtures on health.
Mixtures can be divided into simple (chemicals with comparable properties--health risk assessments on the chemicals) and complex, which can be further subdivided into defined (a reasonably distinct composition, created at a specific time and place despite dissimilar components--risk assessments on the common source) and coincidental (chemicals without similar properties or constant composition in time or space-risk assessments on the receptor). Interactions recognized are: independent action, dose addition (additivity), and potentiation (synergy and antagonism). Unpredicted outcomes need recognition. New approaches in higher education and multidisciplinary investigations are essential. The community of the Society for Environmental Geochemistry and Health should help clarify points such as when transformations in mixtures may become important enough to alter the classification and the risk assessment. The multidisciplinary community is also well placed to support the integration of non-chemical influences into mixture analysis and to contribute to the investigation of cumulative and multiple exposures.
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