Press Release No. 26 | 4 July 2022
Health and Safety at Work: DFG Senate Commission Presents 2022 List of MAK and BAT Values
Submission to Federal Minister of Labour / 68 supplements and new entries / Senate Commission is committed to European Green Deal / New MAK value for vanadium
The Permanent Senate Commission for the Investigation of Health Hazards of Chemical Compounds in the Work Area of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has presented the 58th List of Maximum Workplace Concentrations (MAK values) and Biological Tolerance Values (BAT values). The list was submitted to the Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs and serves as an essential scientific basis for changes and modifications of statutory regulations in the field of occupational health and safety. The list is prepared in fulfilment of the DFG’s mandate to provide scientific policy advice as stipulated in its statutes. This year the list contains 68 supplements and new entries. The digital version of the List of MAK and BAT values is available in German, English and Spanish in open access. In this way, the Commission also contributes to further development and active occupational health and safety at the international level.
The MAK Commission’s international involvement is also demonstrated by the participation of the Commission’s Chairperson, Professor Dr. Andrea Hartwig of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), in the EU’s High Level Roundtable on the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. The latter was established under the European Green Deal, which aims to make Europe a climate-neutral continent by 2050. Together with other representatives of the science community, Hartwig will advise the EU on its strategy in the area of chemicals policy in the coming years so as to promote the production and use of safe and sustainable chemicals. “On behalf of the Commission, I am committed to ensuring that scientifically derived data and findings remain the key basis for the risk assessment of chemicals and for regulatory measures in occupational safety and health,” said Hartwig.
In the current list, the Commission has specified a new MAK value for vanadium and its inorganic compounds. Vanadium is mainly used in the steel industry. A biological reference value (BAR) was also established so as to be able to assess the extent of occupational exposure to vanadium. In addition, a change was made to the MAK value for synthetic amorphous silica, which is used in such products as varnishes, paints and adhesives and as a filler in the rubber industry. It was previously assumed that amorphous substances – i.e. solids whose molecular components are not arranged in crystal lattices – only pose a comparatively low hazard potential. However, new studies have now shown adverse effects even at lower concentrations.
In order to ensure that the testing of harmful agents complies with rigorous scientific standards, the Commission regularly assesses new methodologies, too. It has now devoted much more attention than before to so-called ‘new approach methods’, for example. These mainly involve the use of data-based as well as simulation methods, in addition to cell-based high-throughput testing systems, being increasingly developed to replace animal experimentation where feasible. However, due to the very dynamic development and complexity of these new methodologies, it is crucial to ensure a systematic approach to quality assurance processes and the limits of applicability. For this reason, the assessment by the MAK Commission in this area also provides an important science-based contribution to the above-mentioned European discourse on risk assessment, where methodology has a vital role to play.
The so-called List of MAK and BAT Values contains not just the eponymous MAK values – (maximum workplace concentrations), i.e. the amount of substances that may be present in the workplace in the form of gas, vapour or aerosol without causing long-term damage – it also contains information about which substances are carcinogenic, damage germ cells or harm a developing foetus during pregnancy, sensitise the skin or respiratory tract, or are absorbed through the skin in toxic amounts. It also reports the concentration of a substance in the body to which a person can be exposed for a working lifetime without experiencing adverse health effects (BAT values – the biological tolerance values). The list also contains biological guidance values (BLW values) and biological reference values (BAR values). The so-called exposure equivalents for carcinogenic substances (EKA) can be used to determine the internal exposure that would result if a substance were ingested exclusively via the respiratory tract.
Detailed scientific justifications are available for each of the substances reviewed. Proposals for supplements and new entries are open for discussion until 31 December 2022. Until then, new data or scientific comments can be submitted to the Commission’s Scientific Secretariat.
All substance justifications and methodological descriptions prepared by the Commission along with the annually published List of MAK and BAT values are to be found in the MAK Collection for Occupational Health and Safety. The internet platform is maintained by ZB MED, the central library for medicine, public health, nutrition, environmental and agricultural sciences in Germany. In addition to publishing the latest results of the Commission’s scientific work, the aim is to make all publications available in open access and present the findings for subsequent in-depth use.
For the list itself including all new additions and changes to the 2022 List of MAK and BAT Values, for open access MAK Collection publications and for further information on the work of the Senate Commission, see:
Editorial offices can request a free review copy from
- Michael Hönscheid
Tel. +49 228 885-2109
Link auf E-Mailmichael.email@example.com
Secretariat of the DFG Permanent Senate Commission for the Investigation of Health Hazards of Chemical Compounds in the Work Area:
- Dr. Gunnar Jahnke and Dr. Gerlinde Schriever-Schwemmer
Tel. +49 721 608-47400
Link auf E-Mailmak_sekr@iab.kit.edu
Contact at the DFG Head Office:
- Dr. Katja Hartig
Tel. +49 228 885-2359
Link auf E-Mailarbeitsstoffkommission@dfg.de