Exposure to chemical mixtures: A public concern

EFSA / RIVM Symposium: The future of risk assessment and toxicity testing for chemical mixtures

18th May 2016, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Exposure to mixtures of chemicals: A public concern

Angeliki Lyssimachou, PhD. Pesticide Action Network Europe Read more>>


We are exposed to different types of chemical mixtures in our daily lives, through our food and our environment, interior or exterior. A fruit or a vegetable alone may contain more than 15 pesticides. The risk assessment of chemicals is currently based on the testing of a single chemical, which is highly unrealistic. Chemicals when mixed together may have antagonistic but also additive or synergistic effects. Scientific studies show that mixtures of chemicals with each one at a concentration below the safety limit level may have serious adverse effects that cannot be predicted by testing the individual chemicals alone. This is true for chemicals with similar but also with dissimilar mode of action. For more than 10 years the legislation requires action to protect human and the environment from chemical mixtures exposure. Models should be based in real-life situations, using epidemiology studies, field and clinical research. But while models are developed, regulators should use a precautionary approach and add an extra safety factor. The need to reduce chemical exposure and protect our future generations is urgent and we must act now.  


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Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the European Union, European Commission, DG Environment, LIFE programme. Sole responsibility for this publication lies with the authors and the funders are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.