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Technical Paper

Setting Spacecraft Maximum Allowable Concentrations for 1 hour or 24 hour Contingency Exposures to Airborne Chemicals

Since the early years of the manned space program, NASA has developed and used exposure limits called Spacecraft Maximum Allowable Concentrations (SMACs) to help protect astronauts from airborne toxicants. Most of these SMACS are based on an exposure duration of 7 days, since this is the duration of a “typical” mission. A set of “contingency SMACs” is also being developed for scenarios involving brief (1-hour or 24- hour) exposures to relatively high levels of airborne toxicants from event-related “contingency” releases of contaminants. The emergency nature of contingency exposures dictates the use of different criteria for setting exposure limits. The NASA JSC Toxicology Group recently began a program to document the rationales used to set new SMACs and plans to review the older, 7-day SMACs. In cooperation with the National Research Council's Committee on Toxicology, a standard procedure has been developed for researching, setting, and documenting SMAC values.