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June 4, 1982


JAMA. 1982;247(21):2973-2975. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320460073030

The practice of pathology has always provided special opportunities to relate mechanisms and causes of disease. The growing potential for adverse health impacts resulting from the large number of chemicals that have been introduced into daily life offers new challenges for the identification and prevention of many rare as well as common diseases. More than 60,000 chemicals are used in industry today; of these, fewer than 40,000 have been tested for adverse health effects. For example, the International Agency for Research on Cancer stated two years ago that only about 450 chemicals currently in common use have been evaluated for carcinogenesis, and human data were available for only about 60.1 Furthermore, about 5,000 chemicals are produced in quantities exceeding 450,000 kg per year, and 300 to 500 new substances are introduced into commerce each year.

Over the past decade a broad array of federal legislation has been enacted that has