An article published on April 7, 2017 in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts discusses the use of academic science in the regulatory risk assessment of chemicals, and proposes actions for increasing the regulatory impact of peer-reviewed literature.

Marlene Agerstrand and colleagues from Stockholm University, Sweden, together with colleagues from Swedish regulatory bodies emphasized that several EU legislations state that hazard and risk assessment of chemicals should evaluate “all available and relevant studies.” In practice, however, regulatory assessments are dominated by standard tests performed by industry, while “peer-reviewed studies from independent sources are often disregarded or disputed since they often do not comply with regulatory data requirements and quality criteria.”

Sufficient reliability and relevance of scientific studies are per se “not in contradiction to the aims of research and generally accepted scientific standards.” However, problems may arise because of, for example, incomplete regulatory awareness or insufficient reporting. Therefore, in an effort to “increase the use of academic research for decision-making,” and promote “more science-based policies,” the authors compiled and presented ten actions which could be undertaken by researchers “who strive to have an impact on regulatory assessment of chemicals.”

The ten actions, illustrated by detailed examples, are subdivided into three action areas.

The first area deals with “finding relevant regulatory information,” and includes identifying applicable legislation and guidance documents, relevant regulatory procedures and their outcomes, and relevant assessments from non-regulatory stakeholders, as well as evaluating available chemical assessments.

The second area concerns the actions that can be undertaken to “increase the regulatory usefulness of peer-reviewed data,” and discusses the reporting formats that may facilitate regulatory use, as well as ways to place academic studies in a regulatory context.

The third area focuses on “additional possibilities that contribute to chemicals legislation,” and advises researchers to engage in current assessments and processes, create a dialogue and write for policy makers and other stakeholders, and invest time in training new generation of policy-aware scientists.

The authors concluded with a remark that scientific freedom of those in academia gives them “the opportunity to investigate aspects beyond regulatory demands,” therefore potentially adding “new perspectives.” However, to increase the researchers’ impact on decision making in hazard and risk assessment of chemicals, the scientific approach needs to be “combined with thorough considerations of the reliability and reproducibility of the study, as well as a clarification of how the research results can contribute to the current regulatory assessments.”

Read more

Anna Lennquist (May 11, 2017). “Bridging the gap between independent science and regulation.ChemSec


Agerstrand, M., et al. (2017). “An academic researcher’s guide to increased impact on regulatory assessment of chemicals.Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts (published April 7, 2017).