"There is universal agreement among experts and policy makers that the lack of data on human exposure to chemicals represents a major bottle neck in the risk assessment process," said a spokesperson for the department of consumer affairs.
Chemicals may present risks to human health and the environment. For example, persistent compounds may accumulate in the human body, heavy metals may poison water, fish and soil. Consequently, if chemicals are to provide benefits, then their effects must be sufficiently well known in order to minimise their risks.
"It is particularly vital to assess and manage the risks which may be caused by dangerous chemical substances in order to ensure the safety of consumer products," said the spokesperson.
The directorate general for health and consumer protection has launched a project with the Commission's joint research centre to develop a European Information System (EIS) on 'Risks from chemicals released from consumer products/articles' to improve the availability of data on the subject.
The EIS-CHEMRISKS web site has recently been created based on the networking of national focal points for the exchange of the data required. The activities outlined in the Action Plan focuses on the establishment of inventories and the harmonisation of national data sources and exposure assessment models, the setting up of information exchange procedures for the identification and assessment of emerging issues, development of a European data base on human exposure factors and the assessment of state-of-the art approaches to exposure assessment.
Annual European Status reports on 'Human Exposure to Chemicals' are to present the key results of the EIS-ChemRisks activities.
Sectoral workshops are also being organised on particular issues such as tattooing and body piercing with a workshop on personal hygiene products to be conducted later this month.