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Ethical, Legal, Social and Professional Issues in Toxicology

Professional, Ethical and Legal Issues

  1. Steven G. Gilbert PhD, DABT1,
  2. David L. Eaton PhD2,**

Published Online: 15 DEC 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470744307.gat128

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

How to Cite

Gilbert, S. G. and Eaton, D. L. 2009. Ethical, Legal, Social and Professional Issues in Toxicology. General, Applied and Systems Toxicology. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    Institute of Neurotoxicology and Neurological Disorders, Seattle, Washington, USA

  2. 2

    University of Washington, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, Seattle, Washington, USA

  1. **

    Author acknowledges the support of the Center for Ecogenetics and Environmental Health, NIH P30ES07033.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2009


Toxicologists gather and assess data on the effects of chemicals on human health and the environment. Toxicological data can have significant finical implications as well individual and societal implications. It is thus important for a toxicologist to give careful consideration to values and ethics that underlie scientific research and decision making. The fundamental principles that an ethical toxicologist should consider can be summarized as: (i) dignity, which includes respect for the autonym of human and animal subjects; (ii) veracity, an adherence to transparency and presentation of all the facts so all parties can discover the truth; (iii) justice, which includes an equitable distributions of the costs, hazards, and gains; (iv) integrity, an honest and forthright approach; (v) responsibility, an acknowledgement of responsibility and accountability to all parties involved; and (vi) sustainability, consideration that actions are sustainable over a long period of time. The ethical toxicologist must move beyond adherence to the legal regulatory requirements or best practices and develop a deeper ethical foundation grounded in a consistent philosophy of basic values and principles. This chapter explores various historical and current ethical aspects of issues that professional toxicologists must address.


  • ethics;
  • precautionary principle;
  • justice;
  • dignity;
  • integrity;
  • responsibility;
  • veracity;
  • sustainability;
  • code of ethics