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EC scientific committees' review TTC approach

By Michelle Yeomans , 03-Jul-2012
Last updated on 03-Jul-2012 at 13:08 GMT

The European Commission has published its scientific committees' opinion on the use of the 'Threshold of Toxicological Concern' approach for risk assessment of chemical substances in cosmetics.

The Scientific Committees on Consumer Safety (SCCS), Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER), and Emerging and Newly Identified Risks (SCENIHR) established by the Commission have looked into the risk assessment approach to determine whether the tool is appropriate to assess the health risk of chemicals, with a focus on cosmetics.

The TTC approach is a risk assessment tool, using available knowledge on the structure and toxicity of chemical substances to categorise them according to their toxic potency. For each category, safe exposure levels are defined.


The aforementioned committees’ identified classes of chemicals and toxic effects for which the approach may be appropriate and those for which it may not, while addressing the issue of data gaps and research efforts required to strengthen the TTC approach.

A chemical with similar chemical structure, but unknown toxicity, can then be compared with the chemical substances in these categories and a maximum exposure level which is likely to be safe can be derived.

The approach is said to be an alternative to costly and time consuming toxicological testing.

However, there are two conditions which must be met for the approach to be used as a substitute; where there is little or no information on the toxicity of a chemical substance and where the human exposure is so low that adverse effects are very unlikely to happen.

The review comes after stakeholders suggested applying the TTC approach to substances used in cosmetics and household products.



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