State of the Art Report on Mixture Toxicity

“There is a consensus in the field of mixture toxicology that the customary chemical-by- chemical approach to risk assessment might be too simplistic,” say the authors of a new report on chemical mixtures. “It is in danger of underestimating the risk of chemicals to human health and to the environment.”

The report takes a new look at an issue that has long been raised by those concerned about low-level chemical exposures. Resolving this issue is complicated by the considerable lack of data regarding the majority of the estimated 80,000 individual chemicals in current use.

"The number of chemical combinations that the Earth's living organisms are exposed to is enormous," said Thomas Backhaus, researcher at the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences and co-author of the report. "Assessing every conceivable combination is not therefore realistic, and predictive approaches must be implemented in risk assessment. We need guidelines on how to manage the chemical cocktail effect so that we can assess the risks to both humans and the environment."

The study, “State of the Art Report on Mixture Toxicity,” published by the EU's Directorate-General for the Environment is available here