EU to take new approach in assessing toxic chemical mixtures

01 June 2012 12:02  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--The European Commission, led by the directorate-general for the environment (DG environment), will undertake a new approach to assessing the potential risks associated with combined chemical mixtures, it said on Friday.

It said although EU laws set strict limits for the amounts of particular chemicals allowed in food, water, air and manufactured products, the potentially toxic effects of these chemicals in combination are rarely examined.

Work will begin next week with internal discussions with the DG environment and other Commission DGs.

“EU legislation provides a high level of protection from individual chemicals, but we need to know more about how chemicals act in combination,” environment commissioner Janez Potocnik said.

“This is an area of large scientific complexity, but such complexity should not be an excuse for inaction. When we have good reason to believe that a chemical mixture is of potential concern for human health or the environment a more detailed assessment should be carried out and we should take appropriate action,” he added.

Under the new approach, the Commission will identify priority mixtures to be assessed, ensure that the different strands of EU legislation deliver consistent risk assessments for such priority mixtures, and fill in gaps in the scientific knowledge needed to assess the mixtures, it said.

The Commission added the first challenge under the new approach will be to identify priority mixtures as the number of potential chemical combinations is very large, so that resources can be focused on the most potentially harmful mixtures.

It said that as soon as a priority mixture is identified, it will be assessed in a coordinated and integrated manner. By 2014, the Commission added it will develop technical guidance to codify best practice for the assessment of priority mixtures.

The Commission will draw up a report in 2015 to take stock of its progress.

By: Franco Capaldo
+44 (0)20 8652 3214

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