In an article published on September 19, 2018, the scientists involved in the EU-funded project EDC-MixRisk (FPF reported) emphasize that “chemicals [should be addressed] as mixtures in order not to underestimate the risks they pose.” In light of this, “the current risk assessment paradigm seems to be falling short as it is largely based on considering one chemical at a time,” they conclude.

The EDC-MixRisk project “studies the effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), focusing on EDC-mixtures and their effects on the developing fetus.” Carl-Gustaf Bornehag from the Karlstad University, Sweden, explained that, in the first phase of the project, the “real-life exposure data from the Swedish SELMA pregnancy cohort” were used to identify “EDC mixtures . . . that were associated with adverse health outcomes in the children” (FPF reported). Next, “reference chemical mixtures” established in the project were “tested in experimental models for potential adverse effects in terms of growth and metabolism, neurodevelopment and sexual development.” In these experiments, “clear effects on behavior, metabolism, and development” were observed in both cell and animal models, as Joëlle Rüegg from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, summarized. Furthermore, in most cases “single substances did not have an effect at concentrations comparable to the mixtures.”

An article reporting on this study was published on August 28, 2018, in the peer-reviewed journal Environment International. There, the authors propose “a new class of nonlinear statistical models for human data that incorporate and evaluate regulatory guideline values into analyses of health effects of exposure to chemical mixtures.” Their results “suggest that chemical-by-chemical approaches underestimate risk by a factor that range from 1 to 100 for different chemicals.” Therefore, “the guideline values need to be lower than those for single chemicals when the chemicals are observed in combination to achieve a similar level of protection as was aimed for the individual chemicals,” the authors conclude.

Read more

Elina Drakvik (September 19, 2018). “EDC-MixRisk press release and video. EU-funded EDC-MixRisk project highlights importance of considering combined exposure to multiple chemicals.EDC-MixRisk

Elina Drakvik (September 20, 2018). “Why chemical mixtures and EDCs matter – watch our video.EDC-MixRisk

Andrew Turley (September 27, 2018). “Statistical models account for mixture effects through ‘desirability’ concept.Chemical Watch


Gennings, C., et al. (2018). “Incorporating regulatory guideline values in analysis of epidemiology data.Environment International 120: 535-543.

EDC-MixRisk Project (September 18, 2018). “EDC-MixRisk video.YouTube