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October 25, 2012

EC Begins Public Consultation On Discussion Paper Addressing The New Challenges For Risk Assessment

Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 19, 2012, the European Comission (EC) began a public consultation on a preliminary opinion entitled Addressing the New Challenges for Risk Assessment. The Inter-Committee Coordination Group of the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR), Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS), and Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) established a joint working group to review risk assessment procedures and new challenges for risk assessment, taking into account both fundamental and practical considerations, and to provide a scientific discussion paper on the issue. According to the preliminary opinion, a number of additional factors, including the need to assess more complex products and processes, e.g., products of nanotechnologies, make a thorough examination of current and potential future methods particularly timely. The preliminary opinion states that research is needed for developing models suitable for predicting the fate of nanomaterials.  Fully new approaches need to be developed, conceptually different from the traditional molecular-based models. The preliminary opinion states that SCENIHR, SCCS, and SCHER “are aware that the most of the proposals described in this discussion paper are not realistically suitable for amending, in the short term, risk assessment procedures for regulatory purposes. However, this discussion paper highlights needs and priorities for research in order to get the objective of higher precision, accuracy and transparency in risk assessment for protecting human and environmental health.”  Comments are due November 30, 2012