Everyday, man and the environment are exposed to many different chemical compounds from different sources at the same time. Evidence suggests that the risk from chemicals is underestimated when not taking account of this cocktail effect.
In traditional risk assessment and regulation of chemicals each substance is evaluated individually. This new Nordic folder highlights this problem and provides suggestions on how to begin to develop regulation in the EU.
The folder describes in plain language the problem and provides suggestions for a solution. The conclusions and recommendations in the folder are based upon a workshop held by the Nordic Council of Ministers in the autumn of 2010.
The number of different chemical substances is so large that it is practically impossible to test and evaluate all realistic combinations that one can be exposed to. It is therefore proposed that in each regulation (e.g. cosmetics, toys, and industrial chemicals) it is only allowed to use a proportion (e.g. 10%) of the calculated "safe dose".
The Nordic recommendations are in the short term that EU member states should try to regulate combination of different substances under the existing EU legislation where possible. In the longer term it is recommended to address chemical cocktail effects horizontally across different regulatory frameworks in the EU.
The cocktail effect of chemicals has also been put on the agenda during the Danish EU presidency in the first half of 2012.