AEGL-1 is the airborne concentration (expressed as ppm [parts per million] or mg/m3 [milligrams per cubic meter]) of a substance above which it is predicted that the general population, including susceptible individuals, could experience notable discomfort, irritation, or certain asymptomatic nonsensory effects. However, the effects are not disabling and are transient and reversible upon cessation of exposure.
AEGL-2 is the airborne concentration (expressed as ppm or mg/m3) of a substance above which it is predicted that the general population, including susceptible individuals, could experience irreversible or other serious, long-lasting adverse health effects or an impaired ability to escape.
AEGL-3 is the airborne concentration (expressed as ppm or mg/m3) of a substance above which it is predicted that the general population, including susceptible individuals, could experience life-threatening adverse health effects or death.
Airborne concentrations below AEGL-1 represent exposure levels that can produce mild and progressively increasing but transient and nondisabling odor, taste, and sensory irritation or certain asymptomatic nonsensory adverse effects. With increasing airborne concentrations above each AEGL, there is a progressive increase in the likelihood of occurrence and the severity of effects described for each corresponding AEGL. Although the AEGL values represent threshold levels for the general public, including susceptible subpopulations, such as infants, children, the elderly, persons with asthma, and those with other illnesses, it is recognized that individuals, subject to idiosyncratic responses, could experience the effects described at concentrations below the corresponding AEGL.
SUMMARY OF REPORT ON GUIDELINES FOR DEVELOPING AEGLS
As described in Guidelines for Developing Community Emergency Exposure Levels for Hazardous Substances (NRC 1993) and the NRC guidelines report Standing Operating Procedures for Developing Acute Exposure Guideline Levels for Hazardous Chemicals (NRC 2001a), the first step in establishing AEGLs for a chemical is to collect and review all relevant published and unpublished information. Various types of evidence are assessed in establishing AEGL values for a chemical. These include information from (1) chemical-physical characterizations, (2) structure-activity relationships, (3) in vitro toxicity studies, (4) animal toxicity studies, (5) controlled human studies, (6) observations of humans involved in chemical accidents, and (7) epidemiologic studies. Toxicity data from human studies are most applicable and are used when available in preference to data from animal studies and in vitro studies. Toxicity data from inhalation exposures are most useful for setting AEGLs for airborne chemicals because inhalation is the most likely route of exposure and because extrapolation of data from other routes would lead to additional uncertainty in the AEGL estimate.