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Protection Action Criteria and Temporary Emergency Exposure Limits

Protection Action Criteria (PACs) define the concentration of airborne chemicals at which certain protective actions may be required. PACs are used by the DOE and National Nuclear Security Administration for emergency planning purposes and for selecting protective actions during operational emergencies involving chemical releases. PACs are based on:

  • Acute Exposure Guideline Level (AEGL) values published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
  • Emergency Response Planning Guideline (ERPG) values produced by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA);
  • Temporary Emergency Exposure Limit (TEEL) values developed by SCAPA.

AEGLs and ERPGs are developed through a painstaking process that involves reviewing the primary scientific literature, proposing limits, having proposals subject to peer review by subject matter experts in the field, and revising the AEGLs and ERPGs accordingly. Although the specific processes for AEGL and ERPG value development differ significantly, both processes result in limits with a solid scientific foundation. To date, AEGLs and ERPGs have only been developed for a few hundred chemicals. In contrast, several thousand chemicals are stored or used at DOE facilities. An even a broader set of chemicals is stored or used by industry, academia, and government organizations in the United States and around the world. In response to this information gap, the DOE has supported the development of TEELs for chemicals that lack AEGL or ERPG values.

The current focus of the Chemical Exposures Working Group is to develop and maintain the PAC data set. This work involves:

  • Deriving TEELs for nominated chemicals
  • Periodically reviewing and updating existing TEEL values
  • Incorporating new and updated AEGL, ERPG, and TEEL values into the PAC data set
  • Enhancing the PAC/TEEL development methodology
  • Improving the functionality and ease-of-use of the PAC data set and development tools
  • Addressing technical questions from the PAC user community.