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action levels

Action levels are the maximum allowable value of a harmful contaminant after which some type of response must be taken.

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Action levels are commonly used by various governmental regualtory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For example: (1) Regulatory levels recommended by the EPA for enforcement by the FDA and USDA when pesticide residues occur in food or feed commodities for reasons other than the direct application of the pesticide. As opposed to "tolerances," which are established for residues occurring as a direct result of proper usage, action levels are set for inadvertent residues resulting from previous legal use or accidental contamination. (2) In the Superfund program, the existence of a contaminant concentration in the environment high enough to warrant action or trigger a response under the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986 and the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Contingency Plan. The term is also used in other regulatory programs.