LIFE VERMEER - Integrating VEGA, toxRead, MERLIN-Expo, and ERICA in a platform for risk assessment and substitution of risky substance

LIFE16 ENV/IT/000167

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Contact details:

Contact person: Emilio Benfenati
Tel: 390239014420
Fax: 390239014735
Email: emilio.benfenati@marionegri.it

Project description:


To identify a ‘safe chemical’ or a ‘safe use of chemicals’ is challenging. An assessment of the risks must evaluate the impacts on human health and environment, which are separate disciplines. The indicators for distinguishing between safe and unsafe chemicals must incorporate multiple criteria related to both exposure and hazard. The determination of safe chemicals then requires a single index, integrating the multiple dimensions of the exposure and hazard factors. Quantitative Structure–Activity Relationship (QSAR) models facilitate the management and effective use of such multidimensional information, by integrating the data into a single decision-making index for the systematic screening of risky chemicals and their potential alternatives.


The objective of the LIFE VERMEER project is to deliver flexible and user-friendly software tools, called SPHERA and ToxEraser, for the substitution of harmful chemicals. SPHERA will be a diagnostic tool for identifying the adverse effects related to chemicals, and ToxEraser will provide the remedy by suggesting suitable alternative chemicals. Together, these QSAR software modelling tools will enable multiple assessments to be conducted to determine risks and hazards towards human health or to other species, and the persistence or bioaccumulation of chemicals taking into account different exposure scenarios. The tools will have broad application, which will be demonstrated through a series of heterogeneous studies. Both tools will be validated within six case studies (food contact materials, biocides, petroleum and oil fraction, greener solvents, dispersants and cosmetics), so that they can become part of the VEGA (Virtual models for property Evaluation of chemicals within a Global Architecture) platform for QSAR models.

The project will provide great benefits throughout Europe by integrating exposure and hazard into a single advanced tool for risk assessment and for the harmonisation of human and environmental approaches, in particular, for the implementation of the REACH regulation.

Expected results: The LIFE VERMEER project aims to achieve the following results:

  • Reduction of irritant, corrosive and toxic substances;
  • Reduction of carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction substances;
  • Reduction of persistent or bioaccumulative substances;
  • Identification of candidate chemicals to substitute for risky substances in the following chemical categories: food contact materials, biocides, petroleum & oil fractions, solvents, dispersants and cosmetics;
  • Screening of 3 000 food contact materials and 10 000 cosmetic substances;
  • Reduction in the costs of the procedure to assess chemical substances;
  • Development of a new software tool (ToxEraser) to identify substitutes for critical substances, so abating their adverse impacts; and
  • Development of a new software tool (SPHERA) that determines the hazards (toxicological and ecotoxicological) and the environmental behaviour of chemicals in terms of exposure.



Environmental issues addressed:


Risk management - Human health protection
Industry-Production - Chemicals


modelling‚  chemical industry‚  risk assessment

Target EU Legislation

  • Chemicals & Hazardous substances
  • "Regulation 1907/2006 - Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REA ...
  • "Regulation 1272/2008 - Classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures (amend ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator IRCCS-Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri
Type of organisation Research institution
Description The Mario Negri Institute is a private non-profit research organisation with centres in Milan, Bergamo and Ranica (Italy). In Milan, the Laboratory for Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology monitors chemical risk factors affecting human health in the environment and work place. The laboratory specialises in toxicity and environmental modelling methods.
Partners Electricité de France SA, France Kode s.r.l., Italy Institut Scientifique de Santé Publique, Belgium SC Sviluppo chimica S.p.A., Italy Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, Germany ANGEL CONSULTING SAS DI MATTEO ZANOTTI RUSSO & C, Italy Institut National de l'Environnement industriel et des Risques, France Facilia AB, Sweden


Project reference LIFE16 ENV/IT/000167
Duration 01-SEP-2017 to 30-APR -2022
Total budget 2,475,044.00 €
EU contribution 1,482,445.00 €
Project location Bruxelles-Brussel(België - Belgique) Berlin(Deutschland) Île,de,France(France) Nord-Pas-De-Calais(France) Liguria(Italia) Lombardia(Italia) Toscana(Italia) Stockholm(Sverige)


Read more:

Project web site Project website


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version