The BGs report: the use of international substance limit values as an aid to risk assessment

A database of international limit values for chemical substances was recently added to the GESTIS substance database maintained by the BGs, the German institutes of statutory accident insurance and prevention. Its purpose is to support risk assessments of substances. The database is hosted by the BG Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BGIA) and can be consulted free of charge at .

Many countries impose workplace limit values for hazardous substances. Workplace limit values imposed by other countries reveal important information on the danger presented by chemicals, particularly in cases where no German limit value exists. They therefore constitute a useful tool for employers, who have a statutory obligation to conduct hazard analyses in their plants in order to identify the necessary OH&S measures.

The GESTIS database of international limit values for chemical agents contains up-to-date workplace limit values for over a thousand substances. Fibrous substances such as asbestos are to be added. The limit values have been sourced from nine European countries and the United States. Limit values laid down by the European Union can also be found in the database. The international CAS numbers, which constitute a uniform, unambiguous and standard system for the designation of chemical substances, constitute a suitable search criterion. The collection of data was produced by experts from ten European and American OH&S institutes. Its maintenance is the task of the BGIA.

The GESTIS substance database maintained by the BGs provides access free of charge to a total of seven databases:, webcode e20570.

Further information

  • GESTIS - International limit values for chemical agents
  • Databases on hazardous substances (GESTIS)


Prof Dr Dietmar Breuer

Chemical and biological hazards

Tel: +49 30 13001-3200
Fax: +49 30 13001-38001