It’s time to find out what’s in our daily chemical cocktail

News 2018 / May

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It’s time to find out what’s in our daily chemical cocktail

The world’s chemical production has increased more than 50-fold since the 1950s and several studies have shown that hazardous chemical exposure contributes substantially to diseases and affects human and environmental health in a profound way.

Most of these studies have, however, only dealt with single substances. In reality we are exposed to complex mixtures of man-made chemicals every day, and how such chemical pressures affect us is poorly understood.

While the European Union have certain systems in place for limiting adverse effects from single hazardous substances the challenge remains to reduce the risks from the mixtures and the total exposure of hazardous chemicals in our lives. Currently, in EU legislation, there is no mechanism for a systematic assessment of mixture effects taking into account different routes of exposure and different product types.

Voices have been raised to address this problem on a legislative level before, but now the wheels are set in motion with the Swedish Government starting an investigation into the so-called Cocktail effect.

“It’s time to take a holistic approach to the amount of chemicals we are all exposed to in everyday life and to develop a strategy for managing the risks” Karolina Skog, Environmental Minister of Sweden, says in a press release.

 

Chemical transparency is key in these questions

A recently published position-paper by representatives from several research projects funded by the European Commission also calls for action concerning the issue of chemical mixtures and highlights transparency as one of the most important things in addressing this.

The paper states that it is important to declare the chemical content in materials and goods to improve the understanding of exposure to chemical mixtures in society, and that access to industry studies would be of great use for regulators and policymakers to prevent risks in a timely and systematic manner.

ChemSec welcomes the discussion and sees it as an important step forward.

“We need to move beyond the chemical-by-chemical approach to truly understand and better address the impact man-made chemicals has on us. Here chemical transparency is key. And with more and more companies willing to share such information we hope that legislators will dare to push for tougher implementation of existing information requirements, and to suggest new ones” says Dr. Anna Lennquist, Senior Toxicologist at ChemSec.