Syngenta Toxicologist Decodes "how much is too much?" For Journalists

-- Timothy Pastoor, Ph.D., DABT, participates in Society of Environmental Journalists' annual conference

-- Provides toxicology "decoder ring"

Nov 08, 2012, 08:00 ET from Syngenta

GREENSBORO, N.C., Nov.  8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Syngenta Principal Scientist Timothy Pastoor, Ph.D., DABT, joined reporters and editors at the Society of Environmental Journalists' 22nd Annual Conference to explain "how much is too much?" when assessing compounds. The conference was held October 17 through 21 at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

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"As toxicologists, we know that even a substance as common as table salt can be deadly if too much is consumed," said Pastoor. The goal of this discussion was to help journalists understand the process regulators go through to determine whether to register a chemical. "The secret 'decoder ring' is really the amount of exposure. Determining the no-effect exposure level is a complex and comprehensive process involving more than 180 required tests."

Pastoor also spoke about the challenge of increasingly sensitive scientific equipment that now can measure infinitesimal amounts of a compound. But he stressed that a measurable amount is often still a safe amount. An example he gave was table salt: Even when dissolved in 50 gallons of water, one grain of salt can still be detected. Yet that detectable, minute concentration is completely harmless to humans.

"Being in the labs at Texas Tech was a great opportunity for the journalists to see the science in action and ask questions about the process," added Pastoor. "My goal was to provide them with a strong foundation, since they often play the important role of translator between scientists and the public on important environmental issues."

As a principal scientist, Pastoor often serves as a scientific expert and lecturer on toxicology and risk assessment. He also has served as Syngenta's head of Human Safety, managing a team of toxicologists and risk-assessment experts who use safety, health and environmental studies to establish product safety.

Pastoor has more than 30 years of international experience in fundamental toxicity testing, mode-of-action research and human-health risk assessment. He is a Toxicology Forum board member, a member of the SOT Communications Committee and past president of its Regulatory and Safety Evaluation Specialty Section, and a board member of the International Life Sciences Institute Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (ILSI/HESI).

Pastoor earned his doctorate in toxicology from the University of Michigan and is certified by the American Board of Toxicology (DABT).

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