With a stakeholder-oriented and cross-working group effort, we are currently building a long-term strategy for exposure science in Europe - that we urgently need a strategy for strenghening exposure science in Europe and elswhere is highlighted also through the crucial role of exposure science in the current COVID-19 pandemic (see Deziel et al. 2020, JESEE, doi:10.1038/s41370-020-0225-3).
(Source: Fantke et al. 2020, Building a European exposure science strategy, JESEE, doi:10.1038/s41370-019-0193-7)
It was 2007, after the entry into force of REACH (1) that Europe got a clear regulatory mandate to deliver adequate exposure information to foster the safe use and management of chemicals. The third registration deadline has now passed and at present more information on chemicals (22124 chemicals on EU market are registered as of 19-April-2019) is available than ever before (1).
Regulatory changes in the EU during the last decade increased the demand for high-quality exposure information in Europe more than elsewhere (2). However, in the case insufficient or missing exposure information, default assumptions are frequently used. These are often not well argued or very conservative, which in some cases lead to incorrect risk estimates due to underestimations or severe overestimations of a risk hampering decision making (3).
Diverse parts of legislation put unique demands on the European exposure science community, like REACH, the Biocides Regulation, the General Food Law, but also the Regulation on Medical Devices and Construction Products, regulations on general product safety, classification, labelling and packaging, control of air quality and major-accident hazards. Furthermore, EU strategies add additional challenges (4). These include challenges related to moving toward a Non-Toxic Environment by 2050 (5), striving toward a circular and bio-based economy, promoting green and sustainable chemistry, and better understanding the potential of ICT and Omics in revealing individual patterns of diseases, which would help design future health (care) measures (6).
In Europe, exposure science is closely related to regulation, because a large part of exposure science is driven by regulatory needs. However, recent scientific advances face difficulties in finding their way into regulatory common practices. Therefore, during the ISES 2016 meeting in Utrecht, the Netherlands, European exposure professionals representing a wide range of stakeholders met and agreed that it was time to join forces and to work together building a highly needed European exposure science strategy and community.
In 2017, ISES Europe was founded and after its Board Members were elected, the Board started to work out the best way to promote advancements of exposure sciences. As a Board we believe that it is both important and timely to ensure that exposure science is recognized by all the European stakeholders and that each of us is also willing to contribute to this. The progressive reduction in animal testing and the greater demand for monitoring are important aspects for many of us including both regulators and industry. Multiple actors in the field expressed the need to have guidance to enhance transparency of choices made in the selection of input exposure data also understanding the representativeness of monitoring data and models. Also the translation of exposome outcomes into health-related regulatory actions require stakeholders to collaborate.
The above developments all adds weight to discuss and agree upon what the overarching discipline would be in the future and consequently how to shape the discipline in Europe. We are therefore grateful that together with the entire Board and the support of stakeholders, at 19-20 June, 2018, we implemented the 1st ISES Europe Workshop. European exposure professionals from academia, industry, public stakeholder groups, insurance companies, and regulatory authorities (national and EU level) met at this workshop, which was organized by ISES Europe and the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA). The main aim was to develop a European strategy for "promoting exposure science in support of public and environmental health research, practices and policy-making.” These aims continue to be relevant for us and are specifically:
Main output of this first workshop is a report summarizing the main outcomes and the way forward to a European Exposure Science Strategy 2020-2030. Download the Report here
(1) ECHA/PR/18/10. 21 551 chemicals on EU market now registered. https://echa.europa.eu/-/21-551-chemicals-on-eu-market-now-registered
(3) Ezendam J., Bos P.M.J., Luijten M. (2013). Identifying strengths and weaknesses of current human health risk assessment – a workshop report. RIVM report 050012002/2013.
(4) Bruinen de Bruin, Y., Bessems, J., Fantke, P., van Goetz, N., Schlüter, U., Connolly, A., 2018. Anchoring Exposure Science in Europe, in: Heinemeijer, G., Jantunen, M., Hakkinen, P. (Eds.), The Practice of Consumer Exposure Assessment. Springer International Publishing AG., p. in press.
(5) European Commission (2017) Study for the strategy for a non-toxic environment of the 7th Environment Action Programme. Directorate-General for Environment. Directorate B - Circular Economy & Green Growth. Unit B.2 - Sustainable Chemicals.Written by Milieu Ltd, Ökopol, Risk & Policy Analysts (RPA) and RIVM.
(6) Report on Preparing the Commission for future opportunities - Foresight network fiches 2030 (2015). https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/looking-future-digita...