Combination effects: The challenges of understanding chemical release effects on humans and the environment
9:17 AM MDT | June 7, 2013 | By DEREK KNIGHT
This year, I will moderate a panel dealing with the combination effects from chemicals that occur when humans or the environment are exposed:
(a) To mixtures of substances released from a formulated chemical product
(b) To the same substance released from different sources at different times
(c) To different substances released from different sources at different times
For (b) and (c), the major challenge is to understand releases of substances from different sources and how they combine at a target—human exposure, different environmental compartments, and humans via the environment—and monitoring information can help with this. A further complication for the environment is that fate and distribution effects of substances are important.
For (a), the adverse effect may be due to the mixture as a whole or to the separate component substances—depending on the circumstances of the exposure. A complicating factor is also that the properties of the individual substances may be affected by the coformulants. The current high-profile concern is the cocktail effect, which is when different substances with the same biological action can exert combined adverse effects either on humans or the environment.
With such a wide-ranging topic that covers both the regulatory and industrial challenges of combination effects and culminates on the potential hazards to the general public, the expert panel will surely be involved in an animated debate both within the panel and with the participants attending the event. The panel features experts from the University of Gothenburg, the European Food Safety Authority, the Danish Ministry of Environment, and the European Environmental Bureau, each bringing its own unique view and experiences to the table.