The process of taking in. For a
person or an animal, absorption is the process of a substance getting into the
body through the eyes, skin, stomach, intestines, or lungs.
Glossary of Terms
- Acoustic Neuroma
A benign tumor of the auditory nerve, which can cause hearing loss and balance
- Alternating current & Direct current
Alternating Current (AC) is a type of
electrical current, in which the direction
of the flow of electrons switches back and forth at regular intervals or cycles.
Current flowing in power lines and normal household electricity that comes from
a wall outlet is alternating current. The standard current used in the U.S. is
60 cycles per second (i.e. a frequency of
60 Hz); in Europe and most other parts of the world it is 50 cycles per second
(i.e. a frequency of 50 Hz.).
Direct current (DC) is electrical current which flows
consistently in one direction. The current that flows in a flashlight or another
appliance running on batteries is direct current.
One advantage of alternating current is that it is relatively cheap to change
the voltage of the current. Furthermore, the inevitable loss of energy that
occurs when current is carried over long distances is far smaller with
alternating current than with direct current.
- Base station (in communications)
[A mobile phone base station is] a transmission and reception
station in a fixed location, consisting of one or more receive/transmit antenna,
microwave dish, and electronic circuitry, used to handle cellular traffic.
It serves as a bridge between all mobile users in a cell and connects mobile
calls to the mobile switching center.
(Source: Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ; Data
Collection - Telecommunications Glossary
The study of the chemical processes and compounds occurring in living
American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering
- Blood-brain barrier
A protective barrier between brain blood vessels and brain tissues that allows
blood to flow freely to the brain but prevents most substances in the
bloodstream from reaching the brain cells.
It protects the brain from the effect of many harmful substances but makes it
difficult to deliver drugs to the brain.
Any one of a group of diseases that occur when
cells in the body become abnormal and have
the potential to spread and establish growth in nearby
tissues and other parts of the body
(Source: GreenFacts )
- Cancer risk
A theoretical risk for getting cancer if exposed to a substance every day for
70 years (a lifetime exposure). The true risk might be lower.
Glossary of Terms
A substance, factor or situation that causes or induces cancer.
(Source: GreenFacts )
The basic subunit of any living organism; the simplest unit that can exist as
an independent living system. There are many different types of cells in complex
organisms such as humans, each with specific characteristics.
- Cell culture
The process of growing and maintaining cells under laboratory conditions,
commonly on a glass surface immersed in nutrient fluid.
An electric charge (q or Q) is the quantity of unbalanced electricity in an
object (either positive or negative). It is interpreted as an excess or
deficiency of electrons. Matter that possesses a charge is influenced by and
produces electromagnetic fields.
Electrons, by convention have an elementary charge of -1. Ions are either
positively or negatively charged. The unit of measurement of the charge of an
object is the coulomb, which represents 6.24 x 1018 elementary
- Circulatory system
The system that contains the heart and the blood vessels and moves blood
throughout the body. This system helps
tissues get enough oxygen and nutrients, and
it helps them get rid of waste products. The lymph system, which connects with
the blood system, is often considered part of the circulatory system.
Dictionary of cancer
Having to do with the ability to think and reason. This includes the ability
to concentrate, remember things, process information, learn, speak, and
- Cohort study
A type of epidemiological study which observes a large number of individuals in a population over a period of time.
It compares individuals who are exposed for instance to a certain chemical to others without the exposure or with a different level of exposure. These two groups are called cohorts and are followed over time to determine the differences in the health outcomes between the exposure subjects.
- Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)
Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) are energy-saving light bulbs, which last
longer and use far less energy than traditional (or incandescent) light bulbs
for the same level of light intensity.
(Source: GreenFacts )
- Confounding factor
A confounding factor in a study is a variable which is related to one or more
of the variables defined in a study. A confounding factor may mask an actual
association or falsely demonstrate an apparent association between the study
variables where no real association between them exists. If confounding factors
are not measured and considered, bias may result in the conclusion of the study.
- Controlled study
An experiment or clinical trial in which two groups are used for comparison
- DG Health and Consumers
"The Health and Consumers DG (formally known as Health and Consumer Protection
DG) is one of 36 Directorates-General (DGs) and specialised services which make
up the European Commission."
The mission statement of the Health and Consumers DG is: "to promote a better
quality of life by ensuring a high level of protection of consumers' health,
safety and economic interests as well as of public health"
"This overall goal is addressed through legislative and non-legislative
actions in three inter-related policy areas: 1. Consumer policy (...), 2. Public
Health (...), 3. Food safety, animal health, animal welfare and plant health
DG Health and Consumers website
- Electric current
The electrical current is a physical phenomenon caused by the displacement of
electrons or ions that induce electric fields. By convention, current is
considered to be a flux of positive charges.
The intensity of the current is the quantity of charge which passes in a
conductor per unit of time. The intensity of the current is measured in Amperes
(Source: Belgian BioElectroMagnetic Group Dictionary
- Electric field
An electric field is an invisible force field created by the attraction and
repulsion of electrical charges (the cause of electric flow), and is measured in
Volts per meter (V/m).
The intensity of the electric field decreases with distance from the field
A static electric field (also referred to as electrostatic field) is an
electric field that does not vary with time (frequency of 0 Hz). Static electric
fields are created by electrical charges that are fixed in space. They are
different from fields that change over time, such as electromagnetic fields
generated by appliances using alternating current (AC) or by cell phones etc.
(Source: GreenFacts )
- Electric transformer
An electrical device used to raise or lower the voltage of alternating current. For instance, power is transported over long distances in high voltage power lines and then transformers lower the voltage so that the power can be used by household appliances.
- Electromagnetic fields (EMF)
Electromagnetic fields (EMF) are a combination of invisible
magnetic fields of force. They occur both
naturally and due to human activity.
- Electromagnetic hypersensitivity
Perceived hypersensitivity to exposure to electric and magnetic fields (EMFs)
is described mainly by subjective symptoms (redness, tingling, burning, dryness
of the skin) as well as by fatigue, tiredness, concentration difficulties,
dizziness, nausea, heart palpitation, and digestive disturbances. It appears
that hypersensitivity to electric and magnetic fields is an unclear health
problem whose cause has yet to be determined.
(Source: GreenFacts, based on WHO
Electromagnetic fields and public health
A biological endpoint is a direct marker of disease progression - e.g. disease
symptoms or death - used to describe a health effect (or a probability of that
health effect) resulting from exposure to a chemical.
- Epidemiological studies
Studies on human populations, which attempt to link human health effects (e.g.
cancer) to a cause (e.g. exposure to a specific chemical).
- European Commission
"The European Commission (EC) embodies and upholds the general interest of the
[European] Union and is the driving force in the Union's institutional system.
Its four main roles are to propose legislation to Parliament and the Council, to
administer and implement Community policies, to enforce Community law (jointly
with the Court of Justice) and to negotiate international agreements, mainly
those relating to trade and cooperation."
The Commission's staff is organised into 36 Directorates-General (DGs) and
specialised services, such as the Environment DG and the Research DG.
One of the strongest forms of magnetism which is the basis for all permanent magnets.
Ferromagnetism refers to the phenomenon by which ferromagnetic metals such as iron, nickel, cobalt and certain alloys become magnetized in a magnetic field and retain their magnetism when the field is removed.
The embryo is referred to as a foetus after it has reached a certain stage of
organ development (in humans this is eight weeks after conception).
Frequency is the measurement of the number of times that a repeated event
occurs per unit of time.
The frequency of wave-like patterns including sound, electromagnetic waves
(such as radio or light), electrical signals, or other waves, expresses the
number of cycles of the repetitive waveform per second.
In SI units, the result is measured in Hertz (Hz), named after the German
physicist, Heinrich Rudolf Hertz. 1 Hz means one cycle (or wave) per second.
Frequency has an inverse relationship to the concept of wavelength (the
distance between two peeks) such that the frequency is equal to the velocity
divided by the wavelength.
- Genetic material
Any material of plant, animal, microbial or other origin that carries genetic
information and that passes it from one generation to the next.
The information contained controls reproduction, development, behaviour, etc.
(Source: GreenFacts )
Toxic (damaging) to DNA. Substances that are genotoxic may bind directly to
DNA or act indirectly leading to DNA damage by affecting enzymes involved in DNA
replication, thereby causing mutations which may or may not lead to cancer or
birth defects (inheritable damage). Genotoxic substances are not necessarily
A protein found in the red blood cells [of most vertebrates] that is
responsible for carrying oxygen around the body. Haemoglobin picks up the oxygen
in the lungs, and then releases it in the muscles and other tissues where it is
needed. Haemoglobin also contains iron which is critical for it to work
(Source: Janssen-Cilag UK Ltd ; Ortho Biotech
- In vitro
In an artificial environment outside a living organism or body. For example,
some toxicity testing is done on cell
cultures or slices of tissue grown in the laboratory, rather than on a living
Glossary of Terms
- In vivo
Within a living organism or body. For example, some toxicity testing is done on whole animals, such as rats or mice.
Glossary of Terms
Leukaemia is a cancer that starts in
blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow, which makes blood cells (red blood
cells that carry oxygen around the body, white blood cells that fight disease
and infection, platelets that help to stop bleeding when it starts).
In people with leukaemia, the bone marrow produces large numbers of abnormal
white blood cells and not enough normal red blood cells.
Leukaemia cases represent less than 4% of all cancer cases in adults but are
the most common form of cancer in children.
different types of leukaemia
(e.g. acute, chornic, myeloid and lymphoid leukaemia).
(Source: GreenFacts )
- Magnetic field
A magnetic field is an invisible force field created by a magnet or as a
consequence of the movement of electric charges (flow of electricity).
The magnitude (intensity) of a magnetic field is usually measured
Tesla (T or in mT), but it can also be measured in
The intensity of the field decreases with distance from the field source.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
A technique that uses a strong circular magnet in combination with pulses of
radio waves to produce detailed images of internal organs. MRI is especially
useful for imaging spine, joints, and inside bones and also soft tissue such as
Physicians can use MRI to see for instance the difference between normal and
diseased brain tissue or which parts of the brain are active when you perform
certain tasks or feel certain emotions and sensations.
MRI is one of several Nuclear Magnetic Resonance techniques.
(Source: GreenFacts, based on Institute of Physics Inside story: MRI scans
A class of physical phenomena that include being able to attract iron.
Magnetism is associated with moving electricity, is exhibited by both magnets
and electric currents, and involves force ["magnetic"] fields.
Cancerous. Progressive and uncontrolled growth. Malignant neoplasms or tumours
can invade and destroy other tissues and spread to other parts of the body via
the bloodstream or lymphatics (metastasis).
A statistical method of combining the results of a number of different studies
in order to provide a larger sample size for evaluation and to produce a
stronger conclusion than can be provided by any single study.
A molecule is the smallest part of any chemical compound composed of two or
more atoms and which has the qualities of that substance and can exist alone in
a free state. As an example, a molecule of water (H2O) consists of
two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen.
(Source: GreenFacts, based on Helios
- Nervous system
The nervous system is a complex, sophisticated system that regulates and
coordinates body activities.
It is made up of:
- the central nervous system, consisting of the brain
and spinal cord, and
- the peripheral nervous system which includes, the
eyes, the ears, the sensory organs of taste and smell, as well as the
sensory receptors located in the skin, joints, muscles, and other parts of
- Neurological effects
Effects to nervous system especially regarding structure, functions, and
A small battery-operated electronic device that is surgically implanted under
the skin and joined to the heart by wires, and that measures the pulse and
corrects too fast or too slow heart rhythms.
Study of the biological, chemical and physical activities and processes that
underlie the functioning of living organisms (cells, tissues, organs, and organ
systems) and their parts.
An inactive substance or treatment that looks the same as, and is given the
same way as, an active drug or treatment being tested. The effects of the active
drug or treatment are compared to the effects of the placebo.
A group or number of people living within a specified area or sharing similar
characteristics (such as occupation or age).
- Pregnancy outcomes
Results of conception and ensuing pregnancy, such as sex ratio, birth weight,
spontaneous abortion, congenital malformations, lower birth weight, preterm
delivery or stillbirth.
Energy moving in the form of particles or waves. Familiar radiations are heat,
light, radio waves, and microwaves. Ionizing radiation is a
very high-energy form of electromagnetic radiation.
US Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Glossary of Radiological Terms
- Risk assessment
A scientifically based process consisting of four steps:
Official Journal of the European Communities 2002 L 31
- hazard identification,
- hazard characterization,
- exposure assessment and
- risk characterization
- Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks
The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks
(SCENIHR) was set up in 2004 by the European Commission to provide the
Commission with unambiguous scientific advice on the safety of a series of
issues requiring a comprehensive assessment of the risks, such as new
technologies, medical devices, etc.
The SCENIHR advice is intended to enable risk managers to take the adequate
and required actions in order to guarantee consumer safety or public health.
The SCENIHR addresses questions concerning emerging or newly-identified risks
and on broad, complex or multi-disciplinary issues requiring a comprehensive
assessment of risks to consumer safety or public health and related issues not
covered by other Community risk- assessment bodies.
The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks is
composed of a maximum of 13 members, but for any specific question may enlist
the support of up to six associated members selected on the basis of their
expertise. There is also a reserve list made up of candidates found suitable for
a position in a Scientific Committee but not appointed. The members of the
SCENIHR are appointed on the basis of their skills and experience in the fields
in question, and consistent with this a geographical distribution that reflects
the diversity of scientific problems and approaches in the European Union (EU).
The experts' term of office is three years and is renewable for a maximum of
three consecutive times. In agreement with the Commission, the Scientific
Committees may turn to specialised external experts.
The SCENIHR complies with the principles of independence, transparency and
confidentiality. The members therefore make a declaration of commitment to act
in the public interest and a declaration of interests; requests for opinions,
agendas, minutes and opinions are published; work and publications are done with
regard to the need for commercial confidentiality.
- Tesla (T) - Magnetic Field Intensity Unit
The International System unit of field intensity for magnetic fields is Tesla
(T). One tesla (1 T) is defined as the field intensity generating one newton (N)
of force per ampere (A) of current per meter of conductor:
T = N × A-1 × m-1 = kg × s-2 × A-1
Certain other non-SI units, like Gauss (G), are still occasionally used.
A magnetic field of one tesla is quite strong. That is why magnetic fields are
usually expressed in microtesla (µT). Typical values of field intensity for some
magnetic fields are: S
|Strongest fields available in laboratories
||20 000 000
|Earth's magnetic field intensity, at its surface
|Domestic electrical appliances
||0.02 to 7
|Interstellar magnetic field
||0.000 000 3
based on International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM)
- The Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection
The Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental
Protection (GESAMP) is an advisory body, established in 1969, that advises the
United Nations (UN) system on the scientific aspects of marine environmental
At present GESAMP is jointly sponsored by nine UN organizations with
responsibilities relating to the marine environment, and they utilize GESAMP as
a mechanism for coordination and collaboration among them. GESAMP functions are
to conduct and support marine environmental assessments, to undertake in-depth
studies, analyses, and reviews of specific topics, and to identify emerging
issues regarding the state of the marine environment. GESAMP itself today
consists of 16 experts, drawn from a wide range of relevant disciplines, who act
in an independent and individual capacity. Studies and assessments are usually
carried out by dedicated working groups, most of whose members are not sitting
members of GESAMP but part of the broader GESAMP network.
GESAMP's UN sponsors: IMO, FAO, UNESCO-IOC, WMO, IAEA, UN, UNEP, UNIDO,
An abnormal mass of tissue resulting from uncontrolled and excessive cell
Tumours can be either benign (localised, without the invasion of other
tissues) or malignant (showing progressive invasion of other tissues).
A dizzying sensation of the environment spinning, often accompanied by nausea
(Source: National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Glossary of MS
The difference in electrical charge between two points in a circuit expressed
in volts which makes electrical charges flow through a closed circuit.
- Vulnerability (in ecosystems)
Exposure to contingencies and stress, and the difficulty in coping with them.
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Glossary