Chemicals have a number of benefits for the health of the population and overall quality of life, for example as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics or in the field of food safety. They also generate jobs and innovation. However, chemicals may also present risks to human health and the environment. Persistent compounds may accumulate in the body and heavy metals can poison water, fish and soil. Therefore, chemicals effects must be sufficiently known in order to minimise undesired effects.
One major aim of the European Union is to guarantee a high level of protection for human health and the environment while ensuring the efficient functioning of the internal market and stimulating innovation and competitiveness in the chemical industry. To fulfil this objective, it is pooling scientific and technical expertise to estimate potential risks - for example, by evaluating the toxicity of chemicals and biological compounds whose use may have harmful consequences.