In an article published on April 5, 2018, regulatory news provider Chemical Watch informed that the Swedish government has launched an inquiry into how to address the ‘cocktail effect’ of chemicals and regulate chemicals in groups in EU chemicals legislation. ‘Cocktail effects’ or ‘combination effects’ refer to “the fact that chemical substances can aggravate each other’s hazardous effects,” the Government Offices of Sweden explained in press release.

The Swedish Ministry of Environment and Energy stressed that cocktail effects need to be accounted for, otherwise risks from chemical exposures might be underestimated. Also, the traditional substance-by-substance approach taken to regulate hazardous chemicals can lead to ‘regrettable substitutions,’ where harmful substances are replaced by substances of equal or more concern.

“Regrettable substitution typically occurs when the alternative is structurally very similar, but there is little specific toxicity data,” Chemical Watch explained. Further, “the regrettable nature of the substitution only becomes apparent once use of substance begins to increase and more data becomes available.” Therefore, similar substances should be regulated in groups to reduce the likelihood of regrettable substitutions.

The inquiry will collaborate with government authorities, researchers, companies, trade associations, and other community actors in the field. A report with recommendations has to be delivered by September 29, 2019. Chair of the inquiry is Christina Rudén, professor of regulatory ecotoxicology and toxicology at Stockholm University, Sweden.

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Chemical Watch (April 5, 2018). “Sweden starts combination effects investigation.

Government Offices of Sweden (March 29, 2018). “Government wants to investigate cocktail effects of chemicals.