Glossaries and Databases

John Unsworth
April 27th 2010
A glossary is a list of terms, usually with definitions, and many can be found by searching the worldwide web. Below are some that will be of interest and which can be considered as definitive in the areas dealt with.

Terms Related to Pesticides

For students, researchers, government officials and the general public interested in pesticides the most definitive glossary is the IUPAC sponsored “Glossary of Terms Related to Pesticides” which was updated in 20061. The glossary contains definitions of more than 500 terms frequently used in relation to the chemistry, mode of action, regulation, and use of pesticides. A wide range of disciplines is involved in this field, and the glossary was developed as a step in facilitating communication among researchers, government regulatory authorities, and chemists in associated professional areas. The range of terms relates to pesticide residue analysis, sampling for analysis, good laboratory practice, metabolism, environmental fate, effects on ecosystems, computer simulation models, toxicology, and risk assessment. The number of important, “pesticide-related” terms has more than doubled since 1996, when the first IUPAC glossary of this type was developed, an indication of how this field has become so integrated with many other scientific and regulatory disciplines.


Terms Used in Ecotoxicology

The objective of the “Glossary of terms used in ecotoxicology”, which was prepared in 20092, is to give clear definitions for those who contribute to studies relevant to ecotoxicology but are not themselves ecotoxicologists. This objective applies especially to chemists who need to understand the ecotoxicological literature without recourse to a multiplicity of dictionaries. The glossary includes terms related to chemical speciation in the environment, sampling, monitoring, and environmental analysis, as well as to adverse ecological effects of chemicals, ecological biomarkers, and the environmental distribution of chemicals. The dictionary consists of about 1139 terms. This should be useful not only to chemists but also to pharmacologists, toxicologists, ecotoxicologists, risk assessors, regulators, medical practitioners and regulatory authorities. In particular, the glossary should facilitate the use of chemistry in relation to environmental risk assessment.


Terms Used in Toxicology

Also of interest is the “Glossary of Terms Used in Toxicology” which was updated in 20073. This glossary

contains definitions and explanatory notes, if needed, for terms frequently used in the multidisciplinary field of toxicology. The glossary is compiled primarily for those scientists and others who now find themselves working

in toxicology or requiring knowledge of the subject, especially for hazard and risk assessment. Many medical terms are included because of their frequent occurrence in the toxicological literature. There are three annexes, one containing a list of abbreviations and acronyms used in toxicology, one containing a list of abbreviations and acronyms used by international bodies and by legislation relevant to toxicology and chemical safety, and one describing the classification of carcinogenicity according to the weight of evidence available.


Terms Used in Toxicokinetics


This glossary4 contains definitions of 365 terms frequently used in the multidisciplinary field of toxicokinetics. The glossary is compiled primarily for chemists who find themselves currently working in toxicology and requiring knowledge of the expressions used in toxicokinetics, especially in relation to hazard and risk assessment. Some medical terms are included, where relevant, because of their frequent occurrence in the toxicological literature and because chemists would not normally be expected to be familiar with them. There are three annexes, one containing a list of abbreviations and acronyms used in toxicokinetics, one containing a list of abbreviations and acronyms of names of international bodies and legislation that are relevant to toxicology and chemical safety, and one giving sources for further reading.



Compendium of Chemical Terminology – The Gold Book


Another more general source of information is the IUPAC Compendium of Chemical Terminology5. This Compendium is popularly referred to as the "Gold Book", in recognition of the contribution of the late Victor Gold, who initiated work on the first edition. It is one of the series of IUPAC "Colour Books" on chemical nomenclature, terminology, symbols and units and collects together terminology definitions from IUPAC recommendations already published in Pure and Applied Chemistry and in the other Colour Books.


Quantities, Units and Symbols in Physical Chemistry – The Green Book

Also useful in a general way is the so-called Green Book published by IUPAC6. The objective of this manual is to improve the exchange of scientific information among the readers in different disciplines and across different nations. As the volume of scientific literature expands, each discipline has a tendency to retreat into its own jargon. This book attempts to provide a readable compilation of widely used terms and symbols from many sources together with brief understandable definitions. The style of the manual is not simply a book of rules, but more a manual of assistance and advice to meet the everyday needs of the practicing scientist.

SI Units

The accepted units for science and technology are SI units named after Le Système International d’Unités and information is given in the SI Brochure7. Since 1970, the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (known in English as the International Bureau of Weights and Measures) has published seven previous editions of this document. Its main purpose is to define and promote the SI, which has been used around the world as the preferred language of science and technology since its adoption in 1948 through a Resolution of the 9th Conférence Générale des Poids et Mesures (known in English as the General Conference on Weights and Measures).

Conversion factors

Although most scientific papers etc. report data in metric terms there are still some countries, notably the USA, which use non-metric terminology for items such as pesticide labels. In order to compare these with the metric equivalent conversion factors are needed. It is also important to remember that volume units in the USA are different to the “imperial” units used in the UK. One such source of conversion factors is that compiled by Lex Consulting Services, Guelph, Ontario, Canada 8.



1.      Glossary of Terms Relating to Pesticides (IUPAC Recommendations 2006), Stephenson, G.R., Ferris, I.G., Holland, P.T. and Nordberg, M. (2006), Pure Appl. Chem. 78 (11) pp. 2075-2154


2.      . Glossary of Terms Used in Ecotoxicology, (IUPAC Recommendations 2009), Nordberg, M., Templeton, D.M., Anderson, O. and Duffus, J.H., (2009) Pure Appl. Chem. 81 (5) 829–970

3.      Glossary of Terms Used in Toxicology, 2nd edition (IUPAC Recommendations 2007) , Duffus, J.H., Nordberg, M. and Templeton, D.M. (2007) Pure Appl. Chem.79 (7) 1153-1344


4.      Glossary of Terms Used in Toxicokinetics (IUPAC Recommendations 2003), Nordberg, M., Duffus, J.H. and Templeton, D.M., (2004)  Pure Appl. Chem. 76, (5) 1033–1082

5.      IUPAC Compendium of Chemical Terminology - the Gold Book


6.      Quantities, Units and Symbols in Physical Chemistry, 2nd Edition; Mills, I., Cvitas, T., Homan, K., Kallay, N. and Kuchitsu, K. (1993), IUPAC Physical Chemistry Division, Blackwell Science

Now superseded by the 3rd Edition (2007)


7.      SI Brochure

8.      Useful Conversions, Lex Consulting Services, Guelph, Ontario, Canada



Last modified April 27th 2010



Date added: 2009-09-05 11:54:30   
Last Updated 2010-05-10 02:12:50   
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