In the past centuries mankind has been exposed to various forms of air pollution not only at his occupational but also in his social environment. He mainly gets exposed with these pollutants through the respiratory organs and partially absorbs them into the body. Many of these airborne substances can be harmful for humans and some of them may account for tumorigenic effects.The following essay describes the main features of toxicological assessment of inhalative environmental and workplace xenobiotics. The essay also explains relevant characteristics and limit values of noxious compounds and gases and depicts modern testing methods. To this end, emphasis is given on methods characterizing the different stages of tumorigenic processes. Various test systems have been developed which can be used in vivo, ex vivo or in vitro. They are to a great part based on the evidence of changes in DNA or particular genes of cells. Among others they have highlighted the impact of interindividual variability on enzymatic activation of xenobiotics and on susceptibility of the host to tumor diseases.Unfortunately, for many inhalative environmental noxious agents no sufficient risk profiles have been developed. The completion of these profiles should be the goal of toxicological assessment in order to allow reasonable socioeconomic or individual-based risk reduction.
Keywords: environmental medicine; genotoxicity; limit values; risk analysis; testing methods; toxicity; work-related cancer; xenobiotics.