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News article15 October 2018

Chemical mixtures – EU research consortia take stock of the science-policy landscape

Chemical mixtures – EU research consortia take stock of the science-policy landscape
© EU, 2018

The JRC has worked with five EU funded research consortia, EC department for Research and Innovation, the European Environment Agency and the European Food Safety Authority to produce a paper which identifies research and policy needs to deal with the assessment and management of potential risks posed by chemical mixtures to human health and the environment.

There are several major research projects currently ongoing at European level that aim to improve the assessment and management of combined exposures to multiple chemicals, including the European FP7 and Horizon 2020 research consortia: SOLUTIONS, EuroMix, HBM4EU, EDC-MixRisk and EUToxRisk. The paper was prepared in the context of the Joint Horizon 2020 workshop, "Advancing the Assessment of Chemical Mixtures and their Risks for Human Health and the Environment” which the JRC co-organised and hosted in May 2018. The workshop brought together the research community with Commission services and EU Agencies to assess the state of the science, to map the research strategies of EU consortia against policy needs, and to prioritise areas for collaboration at the science-policy interface.

Every day we are exposed to low levels of hundreds of different man-made chemicals present, for example, in our food, consumer products, and the air we breathe. Our environment too is exposed to a high number of chemical mixtures, originating from numerous sources. This combined exposure to multiple chemicals can lead to health and environmental effects, which might be overlooked in regulatory assessments.

This is because current safety assessment practice is primarily based on understanding the potential risk posed by single substances, rather than their "real life" combinations.

To better protect human health and the environment through the assessment of chemical mixtures, a number of scientific and policy challenges need to be addressed. These have been described in a series of publications, including a JRC policy brief, JRC technical reports, and scientific papers. The European Commission is investing significantly in scientific and technical developments, primarily through its Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

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Publication date
15 October 2018