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Emergency Toxicology

Emergency toxicology strive to understand and describe the adverse health effects and health risks that may result from major chemical accidents and disasters. Our overall goal is to strengthen the emergency toxicological expertise in Sweden by R & D and close collaboration with the national and international authorities. In collaboration with the Defense Research Institute (FOI) we constitute the national centre for disaster toxicology (KcC).Other important partners in Sweden are the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen), and the Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB).

Health-based guidance values for acute exposure to chemical substances

Every year there are approximately 40 major chemical accidents in the EU. A proper risk assessment is the cornerstone of the preventive work and to effectively manage major accidents involving hazardous substances. We study the decision-making from a toxicological perspective. Among other things, we study how sensitive groups such as people with respiratory diseases like asthma are affected by exposure. We also develop models to mathematically describe the relationship between the acute effects, concentration and exposure time. One long term aim is to develop an international harmonized and scientifically sound system for guidance values. We also contribute as experts in the U.S. committee for setting Acute Exposure Guideline Levels (AEGL).

Skin uptake and decontamination

After a chemical incident, there may be a need to decontaminate the exposed persons to prevent and reduce injuries. We study different substances ability to penetrate the skin or to evaporate. This is important to predict the time available for effective decontamination.

Cyanide in smoke from fires

One of the most toxic substances present in smoke from fires is cyanide. It is formed e.g. when upholstered furniture burns. Studies have shown that cyanide poisoning is one of the most common reasons why people die in fires. We study how the cyanide behaves in the airways and try to describe the background levels. Our long term aim is to develop a method to quickly determine whether a person needs to be treated for cyanide poisoning after being exposed to smoke from fires.

Financed by Socialstyrelsen and MSB (Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency).

Contact persons


Mattias Öberg

Enhet: Integrativ toxikologi

Professor, senior

Gunnar Johanson

Telefon: 08-524 877 52
Enhet: Integrativ toxikologi