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Public Health (02-07-2012)

Scientific committees

Brussels, 02 July 2012 - The Commission publishes today its scientific committees' opinion on the use of the 'Threshold of Toxicological Concern' (TTC) approach for risk assessment of chemical substances in cosmetics and consumer products.

The Threshold of Toxicological Concern (TTC) approach is a risk assessment tool. It uses available knowledge on the structure and toxicity of chemical substances to categorise them according to their toxic potency. For each category, safe exposure levels are defined. A chemical with similar chemical structure, but unknown toxicity, can then be compared with the chemical substances in these categories and a maximum exposure level which is likely to be safe can be derived.

The TTC approach is interesting as an alternative to costly and time consuming toxicological testing. However, there are two conditions which must be met for TTC to be used as a substitute: 1) where there is little or no information on the toxicity of a chemical substance and 2) where the human exposure is so low that adverse effects are very unlikely to happen.

Stakeholders have suggested applying the TTC approach to substances used in cosmetics and household products. In light of these proposals, the European Commission mandated its three scientific committees to review the available scientific literature on TTC and to determine whether the tool is appropriate to assess the health risk of chemical substances on human beings, with a focus on chemicals in cosmetics and consumer products.

Scientific Committee's main findings

In their opinion, the three committees:


Work of the three scientific committees

The Scientific Committees on Consumer Safety (SCCS), Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER), and Emerging and Newly Identified Risks (SCENIHR) are independent advisory bodies established by the Commission. Its members are chosen on the basis of their scientific excellence and they advise the Commission on issues associated with consumer safety and risks for human health and the environment.

For more information on the Scientific Committees, please visit: