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Protective Action Criteria for Chemicals - Including AEGLs, ERPGs, & TEELs

Protective Action Criteria (PACs) are essential components for planning and response to uncontrolled releases of hazardous chemicals. These criteria, combined with estimates of exposure, provide the information necessary to evaluate chemical release events for the purpose of taking appropriate protective actions. During an emergency response, these criteria may be used to evaluate the severity of the event, to identify potential outcomes, and to decide what protective actions should be taken. These criteria may also be used to estimate the severity of consequences of an uncontrolled release and to plan for an effective emergency response.

PAC values for emergency planning for chemical release events are based on the following exposure limit values:

  • Acute Exposure Guideline Level (AEGL) values published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Emergency Response Planning Guideline (ERPG) values produced by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA)
  • Temporary Emergency Exposure Limit (TEEL) values developed by SCAPA

For any particular chemical, DOE policy for its facilities and activities established the following hierarchy of PAC values:

  • Use AEGLs (including final or interim values) if they are available.
  • If AEGLs are not available, use ERPGs.
  • If neither AEGLs or ERPGs are available, use TEELs.

AEGLs, ERPGs, and TEELs have three common benchmark values for each chemical (i.e., PAC-1, -2, and -3). Each successive benchmark is associated with an increasingly severe effect that involves a higher level of exposure. The three benchmarks present threshold levels for:

  1. Mild, transient health effects.
  2. Irreversible or other serious health effects that could impair the ability to take protective action.
  3. Life-threatening health effects.

A more detailed definition of the individual AEGL, ERPG, and TEEL benchmarks is available.

DOE policy for its facilities and activities established irreversible health effects (the “-2” level) as the protective action criterion benchmark for chemical releases. 

The DOE's current PAC data set is Revision 27, published February 2012. It provides chemical exposure limit values for 3,388 chemicals.  

The PAC data set (including AEGLs, ERPGs, and TEELs) is accessible as a searchable database, Excel workbook, and series of tables (in PDF format).  Links to the PAC data set products can be found at:

Protective Action Criteria (PAC) with AEGLs, ERPGs, & TEELs: Rev 27 for Chemicals of Concern.