Chemicals in consumer products : Bridging the gap between academic research and chemicals regulation

Sammanfattning: Exposure to chemicals emitting from consumer products, such as clothes, electronic devices, toys and kitchen-ware, has emerged as an issue of public health and environmental concern. The use of chemicals having endocrine disrupting properties in commercial products is receiving particular attention as low dose exposures of such chemicals have been associated with adverse effects in both human and wildlife populations. Current chemicals regulation has been criticized for not providing adequate protection of human health and the environment with regard to consumer products. The aim of this thesis has been to provide new insights and methods related to the risk assessment and risk management of chemicals in consumer products in order to ensure a safer and more sustainable use.The comparative analyses of different EU regulatory frameworks targeting the use of chemicals in articles identified a number of shortcomings and inconsistencies in how chemicals in articles are regulated. One main conclusion from Paper I was that product specific rules are important complements to REACH as they can more easily be tailored for certain uses and exposure scenarios. In Paper II it was investigated whether the regulation of chemicals in articles according to REACH is sufficient for meeting EU environmental goals, which include rectifying environmental problems at the source. It was concluded that the prioritization of substances to be targeted by restrictions and other requirements under REACH to a greater extent should take into account substances that have been identified as posing a risk to or via the environment.With the aim to facilitate the use of all reliable and relevant toxicity information in regulatory health risk assessment of chemicals, a method for systematic and transparent evaluation of non-standard research studies, as well as reporting guidance for such studies, were developed in Paper III. It has for example been emphasized that non-standard research studies can provide valuable information with regard to endocrine disrupting effects. Such effects are not systematically tested for in standardized studies commonly preferred in regulatory risk assessments. In Paper IV, the method for study evaluation proposed in Paper III was combined with recently developed web-based tools that aid summarizing and visualizing toxicity data extracted from several studies. The combined use was found to comprise a promising methodology for identifying reliable and sensitive information from in vivo toxicity studies of relevance to consider in the risk assessment process.The new methods and tools proposed and evaluated in this thesis will hopefully help improve the use of non-standard studies for risk assessment purposes and thereby strengthen the link between academic research and chemicals policy. In my view, this would be an important step towards improving public health protection with regard to the use of chemicals in consumer products.

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