The point of assessing consumer exposure is to estimate human exposure (in terms of concentrations) and daily doses from the data available. Because data on domestic exposure is fairly rare, models have become a key tool in the assessment of consumer exposure.
INTARESE (Integrated Assessment of Health risks from Environmental Stressors of Europe) is a research project funded by the European Commission. The aim of this sixty-month project, which was launched on 1 November 2005, is to conduct an integrated assessment of the health risks from environmental stressors in Europe. The INTARESE project features as part of the European Environment and Health Action Plan by proposing tools and methods for an integrated assessment of environmental health risks. One of the objectives is to contribute to decision-making in various fields of public policy: Transport, Housing, Chemicals, Waste, Climate, Regional development planning.
INTARESE is organised into 7 sub-projects, each of which is further split into "Work-Packages" (WPs). Afsset is involved in various WPs and is particularly coordinating the one devoted to assessing risks due to aggregate and cumulative exposure of consumers to chemicals while using household products.
For the section "Assessment of consumer risks", six European bodies (RIVM1 for the Netherlands, CSTB2 for France, KTL3 for Finland, HPA4 and Imperial College for the United Kingdom and IV5 for Serbia and Montenegro) coordinated by Afsset will work on designing and setting up methods and tools.
The method which will be used is as follows:
Gather information on substances contained in consumer products through collaboration with various bodies concerned: producers, suppliers, formulators, consumer organisations, ministries, anti-poison centres, etc. Based on this information and the personal experiences of the project partners, a dozen or so chemicals will be pre-selected.
Draw up a list of products (of the biocides; paints, lacquers and varnishes; furniture; cleaning products; cosmetics and perfumes) containing these 10 chemicals.
Determine the composition of products. This stage requires producers, chemical substance distributors and the European Chemicals Bureau (ECB) to work together.
Assess the volumes of chemicals used at home by conducting consumer surveys associated with data about product composition.
Draw up a list of toxicity data (mechanism of action, target organ, toxicity level, etc.) for 10 chemicals by using databases (e.g. IUCLID, US EPA, IRIS, WHO IPCS, INERIS, etc.)
Select 4 or 5 chemicals on the basis of the information collected during the previous phases.
Define exposure profiles: list existing surveys and databases in relation with product uses, space-time budgets, construct realistic exposure profiles and identify needs for information.
Assess aggregate exposure for each substance and each profile (review existing models/methodologies).
Assess cumulative risk for each exposure profile.
A review of the models/methodologies for assessing aggregate exposure to chemicals while consumer products are in use is currently being carried out together with the Dutch RIVM. The final report will be available at the end of June 2006.
A report on the regulations and policy governing consumer products in Europe will be available in November 2006.
A report on the protocol for assessing chemicals will be available in the spring of 2006.