The public understands and supports the ethical use of human subjects in medical research, recognizing the unique role for this type of study in the development of new drugs and therapeutic strategies for treatment of disease. The use of data from human subjects can also be of value in understanding the circumstances under which individuals exposed to chemicals in the food supply, in the workplace, or in the environment might experience toxicity, i.e., in support of risk assessment. However, questions have been raised as to whether this latter type of research is ethical, or can be performed in an ethical manner. Under what circumstances is it acceptable to intentionally expose human subjects to potentially toxic agents? This is an extremely important issue for the risk assessment community to address, because it affects in a fundamental way the types of information that will be available to conduct human health risk assessments. Four papers in this issue offer viewpoints on the value of human data, the circumstances under which human subjects might be exposed to toxic chemicals for research purposes, the ethical problems associated with this research, and the role of human vs. animal data in the development of toxicity values for human health risk assessment

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