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Chemical Cocktail Guidelines urged from EC

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Swedish researchers are calling for guidelines to manage the combined effect of toxins on human and environmental heath. The scientists have concluded that a systematic approach to manage the effect of chemical cocktails in the environment is needed, and they are calling on the European Commission for guidelines.

Thomas Backhaus a researcher at the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences and co-author of the report conducted at the request of the EU says, "The number of chemical combinations that the Earth's living organisms are exposed to is enormous. Assessing every conceivable combination is not therefore realistic, and predictive approaches must be implemented in risk assessment. We need guidelines on how to manage the chemical cocktail effect so that we can assess the risks to both humans and the environment."

Information from the European Commission report says “the combination effects of chemicals should be addressed in a more systematic way”. Regulation of toxins is based on a review of single chemicals, but current regulations do not take into account the lifetime health risks of chemicals in consumer goods, that include cosmetics, health care products, clothing, shoes and in the air that contain a variety of chemical cocktails that can impact the natural living environment.

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Evaluating the effect of chemicals on humans and the environment one by one is inadequate because toxins form a complex mix that cannot be well studied. Researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences found a combination of 57 different pesticides in their rivers and streams that have not been evaluated for their impact on living organisms except singly.

An American study from 2005 revealed the presence of pesticides, dioxins, industrial chemicals and flame retardants in newborn babies. Scientists from the University of Gothenburg and the University of London conducted a review of the state of the art of mixture toxicology and ecotoxicology, finding very clearly that the combination of chemicals in our environment are far more toxic than any individual chemical.

The scientists are asking guidelines from the European Commission to help establish more systematic means of managing the combined effect of environmental toxins. European lawmakers could produce legislation to deal with hormone-disrupting substances, which combined, harm the environment and human health to a far greater extent than a single chemical.

State of the Art Report on Mixture Toxicity