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Rheinberger C.M.,European Chemicals Agency ECHA | Treich N.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research
Environmental and Resource Economics | Year: 2016

In light of climate change and other global threats, policy commentators sometimes urge that society should be more concerned about catastrophes. This paper reflects on what society’s attitude toward low-probability, high-impact events is, or should be. We first argue that catastrophe risk can be conceived of as a spread in the distribution of losses. Based on this conception, we review studies from decision sciences, psychology, and behavioral economics that explore people’s attitudes toward various social risks. Contray to popular belief, we find more evidence against than in favor of catastrophe aversion—the preference for a mean-preserving contraction of the loss distribution—and discuss a number of possible behavioral explanations. Next, we turn to social choice theory and examine how various social welfare functions handle catastrophe risk. We explain why catastrophe aversion may be in conflict with equity concerns and other-regarding preferences. Finally, we discuss current approaches to evaluate and regulate catastrophe risk. © 2016 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht


PubMed | Brown University, Purdue University, University of California at Santa Barbara, ETH Zurich and 20 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Environmental science & technology | Year: 2016

Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are increasingly entering the environment with uncertain consequences including potential ecological effects. Various research communities view differently whether ecotoxicological testing of ENMs should be conducted using environmentally relevant concentrations-where observing outcomes is difficult-versus higher ENM doses, where responses are observable. What exposure conditions are typically used in assessing ENM hazards to populations? What conditions are used to test ecosystem-scale hazards? What is known regarding actual ENMs in the environment, via measurements or modeling simulations? How should exposure conditions, ENM transformation, dose, and body burden be used in interpreting biological and computational findings for assessing risks? These questions were addressed in the context of this critical review. As a result, three main recommendations emerged. First, researchers should improve ecotoxicology of ENMs by choosing test end points, duration, and study conditions-including ENM test concentrations-that align with realistic exposure scenarios. Second, testing should proceed via tiers with iterative feedback that informs experiments at other levels of biological organization. Finally, environmental realism in ENM hazard assessments should involve greater coordination among ENM quantitative analysts, exposure modelers, and ecotoxicologists, across government, industry, and academia.


Ortega-Calvo J.-J.,CSIC - Institute of Natural Resources and Agriculture Biology of Seville | Harmsen J.,Wageningen University | Parsons J.R.,University of Amsterdam | Semple K.T.,Lancaster University | And 11 more authors.
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2015

The bioavailability of organic chemicals in soil and sediment is an important area of scientific investigation for environmental scientists, although this area of study remains only partially recognized by regulators and industries working in the environmental sector. Regulators have recently started to consider bioavailability within retrospective risk assessment frameworks for organic chemicals; by doing so, realistic decision-making with regard to polluted environments can be achieved, rather than relying on the traditional approach of using total-extractable concentrations. However, implementation remains difficult because scientific developments on bioavailability are not always translated into ready-to-use approaches for regulators. Similarly, bioavailability remains largely unexplored within prospective regulatory frameworks that address the approval and regulation of organic chemicals. This article discusses bioavailability concepts and methods, as well as possible pathways for the implementation of bioavailability into risk assessment and regulation; in addition, this article offers a simple, pragmatic and justifiable approach for use within retrospective and prospective risk assessment. © 2015 American Chemical Society.


PubMed | University of Amsterdam, European Center for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals, University of Newcastle, Hill International and 9 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Environmental science & technology | Year: 2015

The bioavailability of organic chemicals in soil and sediment is an important area of scientific investigation for environmental scientists, although this area of study remains only partially recognized by regulators and industries working in the environmental sector. Regulators have recently started to consider bioavailability within retrospective risk assessment frameworks for organic chemicals; by doing so, realistic decision-making with regard to polluted environments can be achieved, rather than relying on the traditional approach of using total-extractable concentrations. However, implementation remains difficult because scientific developments on bioavailability are not always translated into ready-to-use approaches for regulators. Similarly, bioavailability remains largely unexplored within prospective regulatory frameworks that address the approval and regulation of organic chemicals. This article discusses bioavailability concepts and methods, as well as possible pathways for the implementation of bioavailability into risk assessment and regulation; in addition, this article offers a simple, pragmatic and justifiable approach for use within retrospective and prospective risk assessment.


Van Dorst B.,University of Antwerp | Van Dorst B.,Belgium Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research | Mehta J.,University of Antwerp | Mehta J.,Belgium Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research | And 9 more authors.
Biosensors and Bioelectronics | Year: 2010

A sensitive monitoring of contaminants in food and environment, such as chemical compounds, toxins and pathogens, is essential to assess and avoid risks for both, human and environmental health. To accomplish this, there is a high need for sensitive, robust and cost-effective biosensors that make real time and in situ monitoring possible. Due to their high sensitivity, selectivity and versatility, affinity-based biosensors are interesting for monitoring contaminants in food and environment. Antibodies have long been the most popular affinity-based recognition elements, however recently a lot of research effort has been dedicated to the development of novel recognition elements with improved characteristics, like specificity, stability and cost-efficiency. This review discusses three of these innovative affinity-based recognition elements, namely, phages, nucleic acids and molecular imprinted polymers and gives an overview of biosensors for food and environmental applications where these novel affinity-based recognition elements are applied. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.


Kinsner-Ovaskainen A.,Institute for Health and Consumer Protection | Maxwell G.,Colworth Science Park | Kreysa J.,Institute for Health and Consumer Protection | Barroso J.,Institute for Health and Consumer Protection | And 25 more authors.
ATLA Alternatives to Laboratory Animals | Year: 2012

The use of Integrated Testing Strategies (ITS) permits the combination of diverse types of chemical and toxicological data for the purposes of hazard identification and characterisation. In November 2008, the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA), together with the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM), held a workshop on Overcoming Barriers to Validation of Non-animal Partial Replacement Methods/Integrated Testing Strategies, in Ispra, Italy, to discuss the extent to which current ECVAM approaches to validation can be used to evaluate partial replacement in vitro test methods (i.e. as potential ITS components) and ITS themselves. The main conclusions of these discussions were that formal validation was only considered necessary for regulatory purposes (e.g. the replacement of a test guideline), and that current ECVAM approaches to validation should be adapted to accommodate such test methods (1). With these conclusions in mind, a follow-up EPAA-ECVAM workshop was held in October 2009, to discuss the extent to which existing validation principles are applicable to the validation of ITS test methods, and to develop a draft approach for the validation of such test methods and/or overall ITS for regulatory purposes. This report summarises the workshop discussions that started with a review of the current validation methodologies and the presentation of two case studies (skin sensitisation and acute toxicity), before covering the definition of ITS and their components, including their validation and regulatory acceptance. The following main conclusions/recommendations were made: that the validation of a partial replacement test method (for application as part of a testing strategy) should be differentiated from the validation of an in vitro test method for application as a stand-alone replacement, especially with regard to its predictive capacity; that, in the former case, the predictive capacity of the whole testing strategy (rather than of the individual test methods) would be more important, especially if the individual test methods had a high biological relevance; that ITS allowing for flexible and ad hoc approaches cannot be validated, whereas the validation of clearly defined ITS would be feasible, although practically quite difficult; and that test method developers should be encouraged to develop and submit to ECVAM not only full replacement test methods, but also partial replacement methods to be placed as parts of testing strategies. The added value from the formal validation of testing strategies, and the requirements needed in view of regulatory acceptance of the data, require further informed discussion within the EPAA forum on the basis of case studies provided by industry.


Vanparys C.,University of Antwerp | Depiereux S.,University of Namur | Nadzialek S.,University of Namur | Robbens J.,University of Antwerp | And 4 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2010

In vitro estrogenicity screens are believed to provide a first prioritization step in hazard characterization of endocrine disrupting chemicals. When applied to complex environmental matrices or mixture samples, they have been indicated valuable in estimating the overall estrogen-mimicking load. In this study, the performance of an adapted format of the classical E-screen or MCF-7 cell proliferation assay was profoundly evaluated to rank pure compounds as well as influents and effluents of sewage treatment plants (STPs) according to estrogenic activity. In this adapted format, flow cytometric cell cycle analysis was used to allow evaluation of the MCF-7 cell proliferative effects after only 24h of exposure. With an average EC50 value of 2pM and CV of 22%, this assay appears as a sensitive and reproducible system for evaluation of estrogenic activity. Moreover, estrogenic responses of 17 pure compounds corresponded well, qualitatively and quantitatively, with other in vitro and in vivo estrogenicity screens, such as the classical E-screen (R2=0.98), the estrogen receptor (ER) binding (R2=0.84) and the ER transcription activation assay (R2=0.87). To evaluate the applicability of this assay for complex samples, influents and effluents of 10 STPs covering different treatment processes, were compared and ranked according to estrogenic removal efficiencies. Activated sludge treatment with phosphorus and nitrogen removal appeared most effective in eliminating estrogenic activity, followed by activated sludge, lagoon and filter bed. This is well in agreement with previous findings based on chemical analysis or biological activity screens. Moreover, ER blocking experiments indicated that cell proliferative responses were mainly ER mediated, illustrating that the complexity of the end point, cell proliferation, compared to other ER screens, does not hamper the interpretation of the results. Therefore, this study, among other E-screen studies, supports the use of MCF-7 cell proliferation as estrogenicity screen for pure compounds and complex samples. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.


Van Dorst B.,University of Antwerp | Van Dorst B.,Belgium Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research | De Coen W.,University of Antwerp | De Coen W.,European Chemicals Agency ECHA | And 3 more authors.
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry | Year: 2010

In the present study the use of phage display as a screening tool to determine primary toxicological targets was investigated. These primary toxicological targets are the targets in the cell with which a chemical compound initially interacts and that are responsible for consecutive (toxic) effects. Nickel was used as model compound for the present study. By selection of Ni-binding peptides out of a 12-mer peptide phage library, it was possible to identify primary toxicological targets of Ni (and other metals). The selected Ni-binding peptides showed similarities to important primary toxicological targets of Ni, such as the hydrogenase nickel incorporation protein (hypB) and the Mg/Ni/Co transporter (corA). This shows that phage display, which is already widely used in other research fields, also has potential in ecotoxicology, as a novel screening tool with which to determine primary toxicological targets of chemical compounds. © 2009 SETAC.


Oberg T.,European Chemicals Agency ECHA
Journal of Risk Research | Year: 2014

The article focuses on several important issues concerning the current status and use of the substitution principle in chemicals regulation. Substitution of dangerous substances by less dangerous ones has become an important objective in the EU chemicals policy. Within the REACH regulation, substitution is often referred to in the context of authorization of substances of very high concern (SVHC) with the aim of eventual replacement by safer alternatives or technologies. However, important drivers for substitution also exist in other parts of REACH as well as in related legislation. Priority is normally given to include substances with PBT or vPvB properties or wide dispersive use or high volumes. Thus without attempting to do risk assessment, the potential for human and environmental exposure is clearly considered in setting the priorities for sending substances into the authorization regime.

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