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Consumers (28-09-2006)

Consumer Safety: Commission seminar on the assessment of consumer exposure to chemicals in consumer products

Do you know what chemicals you are exposed to when you iron a shirt, sleep in a room with carpet or work on your computer? To help answer these questions, the Directorate-General for Health and Consumer Protection in co-operation with the Directorate-General Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission is organising a Seminar on the Assessment of Consumer Exposure to Chemicals in Consumer Products. The one-day seminar of some 120 experts will take place in Brussels on 29 September 2006. The main objectives of the seminar will be;
·         to highlight the assessment of consumer exposure to chemicals in products as a crucial aspect of risk assessment;
·         to review the need for more effective approaches in this area, with particular regard to product safety legislation and of the forthcoming "REACH" legislation on chemical substances;
·         to introduce the results of a project conducted by the JRC in order to develop a tool to assist exposure assessment, the European Information System EIS, and discuss its potential as basis for a standard framework for consumer exposure modelling and assessment.
Lack of crucial data
Experts consider that exposure of humans to chemicals from articles and products (toys, textiles, equipment, etc) accounts for the lion’s share of the total human exposure to chemicals. Yet, the lack of data on human exposure to chemicals represents a major gap in the risk assessment process. Attempts to conduct risk assessments on chemicals present in consumer articles are hindered by the lack of credible information on the exposure of consumers to the chemicals being released from them.
Commission-funded projects aim to fill the gap
‘EIS-CHEMRISKS’ and ‘EIS-CHEMTEST’ are two projects that have been funded by the Commission since 2002, in an attempt to develop a set of standardised ‘tools’ to facilitate exposure assessments. EIS-CHEMRISKS aims to increase the knowledge base on human exposure to chemicals from products/articles, whereas EIS-CHEMTEST is designed to stock-take, develop and validate methodologies used to measure the release (and hence exposure) of chemicals from consumer articles. The projects are being conducted by the Physical and Chemical Exposure Unit (PCEU) of the JRC. Participants in the projects include experts from the MemberStates, academia, industry and NGOs. Activities include the development and analysis of data such as exposure scenarios and product assessments on items including toys, textiles office equipment, personal hygiene articles, as well as the development of methodologies and an ‘exposure assessment tool box’ for use by experts.
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