Cumulative chemical risk assessments more widely needed, says US panel

Risk assessments that consider multiple chemical exposures should be used if the substances have common adverse health effects, according to a report for the US Environmental Protection Agency. The findings will mean tighter limits on chemical exposures and the recalculation of many safety thresholds.

The cumulative risks from multiple exposure to chemicals with the same health effects should be considered when carrying out risk assessments, a US National Research Council (NRC) report on phthalates has concluded.1

The report, published in December, was commissioned by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine how to best assess the risks of exposure to phthalates. These substances interfere with male sexual development and are widely used in cosmetics and flexible plastics. The additive effects of phthalate mixtures are now beyond dispute (ENDS Report 404, p 28), but uncertainty over how to address the problem has lingered.

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